Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Enjoying the Two Australias

If you haven’t visited Australia before, there may be surprises. You can see things that don’t exist anywhere else in the world: pre-historic forests, unique animals, and the world’s oldest living culture. Over a dozen World Heritage Sites: “have cultural or natural value to the common heritage of humanity.” You will also find a modern world. It has glamour, high technology, a fast-paced lifestyle, and indulgent recreation. Australia can give you the best of both worlds.

The Great Barrier Reef:

The world’s largest coral reef system includes over 2,900 individual reefs. It is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, stretching more than 1600 miles along the Queensland coast. You can sail, ride glass bottom boats, snorkel or scuba dive to experience unforgettable multi-colored coral landscapes and marine life.

Greater Blue Mountains Area:

New South Wales’ largest wilderness area has deep canyons and cliffs. The Wollemi National Park, boasts two pre-historic coniferous pine forests, left over from the Continent of Gondwanaland. Wollemi pines have survived more than 110 million years. Come here and bushwalk back in time.

The bush and Aboriginal culture:

The archeology inclined, can visit Riversleigh, Queensland's most famous fossil site. Kakadu National Park holds a wealth of Aboriginal cultural artifacts. In Daintree, Rainforest, you’ll learn Aboriginal culture from Wujal Wujal people, in a 135 million year old rain forest.

Native birds and animals:

Coastal Islands of Phillip, Kangaroo and Ningaloo Reef, are ecological havens. Pelicans, sea lions, koalas, wallabies, bandicoots platypus, abundant bird life and fur seals find homes there. Daily, at dusk, thousands of little penguins waddle home from foraging for food. Brave people come to the reef, to swim with huge Whale Sharks. In Tasmania, you can visit Bonorong Wildlife Center to espy Kangaroos, Koala, Tasmania Devils and Wombats in their habitats.

Modern Australia:

"When in Rome do as the Romans" couldn't be more relevant than joining the fun-loving Australians in their favorite pastimes. Australia is a jet set playground that features some of the most stunning modern architecture you can find. Sydney Opera House, a Pritzker Prize, architectural masterpiece, is a must for the sophisticated visitor. It is a multi-venue performing arts center, with top artists and their own productions. The center sits on the bay near the renowned Royal Botanic Gardens. Try to see both.

Glamorous Casinos are in every major city:

There is world class gaming with Australian 2005 World Series of Poker champion Joe Hachem, the Australian poker championship and the Aussie millions. For other people, casinos have poker machines, locals call “Pokies.“ Playing pokies has become such a local pastime that pokies are in clubs and most pubs all over Australia. You can stop by and join the Aussies playing Pokies.

Australia’s historic prisons:

History is important to the country. Eleven prisons have been restored for guided tours: One in Tasmania even has an active theater re-enacting a prisoner’s story. Fremantle prison has the best remaining example of convict transportation.

Adelaide Central Market:

Not just a flea market, Adelaide is the largest outdoor produce market in the Southern Hemisphere. Even if you just enjoy local fruit while looking for souvenirs, it’s worth a stop.

Beaches and more:

Australia is a beach and surfer’s paradise. Quicksilver Pro-Surfer Championships are every February. Jet Ski’s and windsurfing abound. Aquatic recreation is on rivers, and beaches. You can hot air balloon, over national attractions in Canberra or your favorite beach. The only thing sure about visiting Australia, is that with so much to see and enjoy, you must come back again.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Debunking the Myths About The Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of Europe’s most visited nations, with the city of Amsterdam attracting millions of visitors every year. Despite this, however, numerous myths about the country continue to persist even in light of information to the contrary. From the name of the country to its reputation for vice and cannabis consumption, much of what people think they know about The Netherlands is inaccurate or even untrue.

One of the most common misconceptions about the Netherlands is that it is called “Holland” and many people use the two names interchangeably. This is, of course, incorrect. The term Holland refers very specifically to a region in the west of the country that is comprised of the provinces of North and South Holland; there are ten other provinces in the Netherlands. The Holland provinces do contain some of the country’s largest cities, including Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Haarlem, which may explain some of the confusion over the name.

Much to the displeasure of many natives, the Netherlands has developed a reputation as having something of a seedy side. Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District receives millions of visitors every year, due in part to the country’s legalisation of prostitution. While it is true that prostitution is accepted in Amsterdam, it is worth bearing in mind that it is also tightly regulated so that many of the problems most commonly associated with the sex industry, such as increased crime and violence, are not a serious issue in the city. Far from being seedy, Amsterdam’s Red Light District is actually one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city.

The Netherlands, and Amsterdam in particular, is notorious for its liberal drug laws, so much so that the city has become synonymous with its “coffee shop” culture to many people around the world. Many people, however, make the mistake of assuming that the possession and use of drugs is legal in the Netherlands, when in fact it is only softer drugs that are tolerated. Even then, substances such as cannabis and magic mushrooms are only decriminalised and remain technically illegal. Many Dutch people, however, have become dismayed at the influx of drug tourists and legislative changes may see Amsterdam’s coffee shops closed to foreigners by the end of 2012.

In the meantime, many tourists will most likely continue to use Amsterdam holidays as an excuse to indulge in what they can’t legally do at home. Whether the changes to drug legislation in the Netherlands will survive into the long-term or not, this looks to be one Dutch myth that will soon to be put to rest for the time being.

Jennifer Adams is a part of the digital blogging team who write about subjects like lifestyles and travel, such as Amsterdam holidays on behalf of a growing number of airline brands. To keep up to date with the latest in travel news.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why visit Shropshire?

Shropshire is one of Britain’s best kept secrets; off the beaten track of most of the major cities, it’s a quiet and peaceful county full of potential, and what’s better? Chances are that most people either won’t have heard of it, or haven’t been there.

Don’t let the anonymity fool you though, Shropshire has got a great deal to offer to the adventurous tourist...

The Shropshire Basics

Shropshire is England’s largest inland county and lies to the west of Birmingham, which is just east of the Welsh border. Britain’s longest river, the river Severn, traverses the county through the Severn Valley. The river is overlooked for some of its journey by one of Britain's few remaining steam railways. The Severn Valley Railway offers a rare chance to observe the beautiful country-side while experiencing travel as it was at the turn of the 20th century.

Picturesque Scenery

Shropshire’s biggest draw is the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (yes, that is its real name) which covers one quarter of the county. It is a tranquil landscape with hills, woods and farms that offer the opportunity to walk, cycle and ride horses along its many paths and tracks.

It is one of Britain’s finest landscapes and includes open spaces, hidden valleys and river valleys; Wenlock Edge, the Stiperstones and the Long Mynd. These will all provide you with breathtaking views and memorable experiences.

Long Mynd
Market towns intersperse this area each with their own character, offering local produce and niche shops for you to visit and enjoy. Some of these famous towns have features which are truly unique, such as Bridgnorth with the only working inland Cliff Railway which is well worth a visit!

Shropshire and its scenic beauty
Medieval History

As part of Shropshire’s heritage this area also provides the opportunity to visit many castles and hill forts that once protected the border from Wales. There are 25 hill forts in Shropshire, evidence of Iron Age settlements, and an impressive 32 castles.

These include Ludlow Castle, an impressive 11th century structure that provides guided tours and impressive views of the medieval town as well as the opportunity to visit Michelin starred restaurants. Myths and legends abound these structures and are well worth a visit as well as spending time visiting the local area.

Ludlow Castle
Six medieval abbeys and priories, including Shrewsbury, Buildwas and Much Wenlock, are also open to visitors and, although are left as ruins, are preserved and accessible to visitors and provide an insight into life in medieval Shropshire.

Heritage from the Industrial Era

Shropshire’s heritage is not only medieval, it was also an important centre for the birth of the industrial revolution in England in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Situated on the banks of the River Severn, and close to the town of Broseley, lies the picturesque village of Coalbrookdale, an unlikely scene for the beginnings of industry. Nevertheless, it was here that Abraham Darby first developed techniques to refine the iron making process; several museums, the remains of the blast furnaces and the preservation of the Darby houses are open to visitors as a testament to their achievements.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums include ten museums in total that cover the World Heritage Site, including the world famous Ironbridge itself. These museums are interactive and are family friendly, such as the Blists Hill Victorian Town which is a reconstruction of a nineteenth century town providing visitors with the opportunity to visit the shops, ride on a Victorian fairground, see industry at work and much more.

Ironbridge bridge and memorial

Finding somewhere to stay in Shropshire is a bit of a lucky dip. You can easily find yourself a nice hotel in Wolverhampton or Telford but to truly experience Shropshire you need to find a proper Bed and Breakfast.

For the most part these can be found online or in directories, but there’s always a chance that you’ll pass the perfect farmhouse with a sign in front so leaving your schedule flexible has it’s merits.

There are also several budget hotels chains in the area. Travellodge, for example, has 7 establishments in the county offering comfortable and clean rooms at affordable rates.

Shropshire has the lot: it has been the setting for many British films and television series; celebrities such as Harrison Ford and Calista Flockheart have chosen to holiday here in the past and even Bill Clinton visited as part of the GM Summit. Lord of the Rings author J.R.R Tolkien caught some of Shropshire's magic when he created Middle Earth. If you are looking for unspoilt towns, a range of activities and attractions and breathtaking views then a visit to Shropshire is for you.

This post was provided by Michael Derges from printer cartridge retailer Stinkyink.com.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Visiting Lake Buchanan in the Highland Lakes Region of Texas

Visitors that come to visit the central Texas cities of Austin and San Antonio may not realize they are in for a special treat! The beautiful Texas Hill Country is a short, picturesque drive away from both of these major cities and make the perfect side trip to enjoy the gorgeous lakes, rolling hills in the countryside and small town charm of the Highland Lakes region.

The Landscape

This area of Texas is beautiful and is far different from the dusty, dry Wild West images that tend to be conjured up when one thinks of Texas. The rolling hills are populated with cedar trees and grasslands, and the small, quaint towns boasting local artisans, antique shops and local cuisine are scattered throughout the region. In the springtime, guests to the Texas Hill Country are treated to an explosion of color as the famous Bluebonnets and Indian Paint Brush wildflowers burst into bloom, covering the landscape. The geography of this region also forms the underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to all surrounding areas and also provides water for agricultural production. The Colorado River cuts through the region and also supplements the local need for water. In 1940’s and 1950’s, the Lower Colorado River Authority completed a series of dams and man-made lakes, the Highland Lakes, for flood management, to regulate the water supply and to generate electricity. The surrounding communities experienced the bonus of now having recreational lakes to enjoy fishing, swimming and boating, and also brought local tourism to the area. This is a relaxed area that is quite enjoyable for vacationing, as it is very accessible from major urban areas, yet removed enough to enjoy the best that nature has to offer.

Natural Wonders

The Texas hill country is situated on granite, an extremely resistant type of rock. Underneath the surface, the limestone that lies below this area of Texas formed magnificent caverns. A walk into one of these caverns is truly a walk into another world. One of the more unusual caverns is Longhorn Caverns that houses an exceptionally large chamber that was once used as a speakeasy featuring live music during the Prohibition era of the 1920’s. The caverns here were formed by running water, creating unique, curvaceous passageways that are truly special. Another unique protrusion of granite rock is known as Enchanted Rock. This granite dome rises 425 feet into the air, and visitors can climb to the summit to experience sweeping views of the Texas Hill Country. Visitors to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area will also be treated to a moderate hike through the meandering, Cedar-lined pathways that provide shade along the hike, and hikers may cross paths with Texas wildlife, like the famous armadillo.

A Day At Lake Buchanan:

Lake Buchanan is the largest of the Highland Lakes, covering over 22,000 acres. For visitors that want to enjoy a day at the lake, perhaps visiting the Highland Lakes region as a day trip, Lake Buchanan offers a fun-filled day. Guests driving in from Austin along Highway 281 can stop at the Bluebonnet Café, famous for its generous breakfasts and mouth-watering pie, for a tasty breakfast before continuing on to enjoy the lake for the day.

Visitors have their choice of a number of boat rental companies, where motorboats, Jet skis, pontoon boats, kayaks and canoes can be rented for a couple of hours or by the day. Many rental locations also have water skis and inner tubes. A great option for day guests would be to rent their boat of choice, and then make their way across the lake toward the confluence of the lower Colorado River and Lake Buchanan. Close to the mouth of the river lies Fall Creek Vineyards, an award winning vineyard and winery. Guests can leave their boat on the shore, bring their picnic lunch and take a short walk to the vineyard to sample wine with their picnic lunch on the outdoor patio. After leisurely wine tasting and enjoyable lunch, visitors can head back to the lake for some more play time before returning the boat.

Fall Creek Falls on Lake Buchanan
In the evening, consider winding down the day with a guided river boat tour with Vanishing Texas River Cruise. The Sunset Cruise takes guests on a guided tour of beautiful views of waterfalls, towering cliffs and lots of local wildlife along the Colorado River Canyon. The cruise culminates with breathtaking sunset views that vanish over the lake horizon. Dinner with live, local musicians is also an option on this cruise, an enjoyable finale for a fun-filled day at the lake.

Tracey Louis is a former innkeeper at Lake Buchanan. She likes sharing this hidden gem with visitors, and works with the Burnet County Tourism office to promote the area. For more information on upcoming events at The Highland Lakes on Facebook or on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Adventure Holiday In Australia

Australia is the perfect destination for an adventure holiday. Even though there are world-class cities in Australia, the soul of the country is largely untamed. There is the Outback with its rare wild plants and animals, the Great Barrier Reef with thousands of species of sea creatures living as they have done for many millennia, the desert with its unusual rock formations and extreme temperature and the oldest rainforest on the planet. If you want to taste the adventure this land has to offer you are going to need travel insurance, a sense of wonder, good traveling boots, a bathing suit and an Australian guide.

To go into the Outback is to travel back in time to an era when man faced the elements and the animals without the benefit of modern comforts. The Outback is rich with minerals, precious metals, diamonds, oil and natural gas. But the surrounding country is rugged and wild and receives very little rain. Only the Aborigines and a few hardy Aussies live in the region year round. The Never Never is the most remote parts of the Outback. The Outback has no real boundaries. It is made up of rocky hills, sand dunes, flood plains and red sand covered with wild flowers. It generally comprises north and northwest Australia. Dingoes, rodents, brats, seals, koala, kangaroo wombat, wallabies, echidna and platypus dwell there along with 800 species of birds, 350 found nowhere else. The Outback has many venomous snakes so be careful.

Life in The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is another place in Australia rife with adventure. This is when you are going to need your bathing suit. Located in the Coral Sea off Australia's north coast, the Great Barrier Reef covers 133,000 square miles. There are 2,900 separate reefs and 900 islands. The waters around and within the Great Barrier Reef teem with life. There are hundreds of species of sharks, whales, seals and dolphins in the waters around the reef. It is also home to sting rays, saltwater crocodiles, 17 species of sea snake and 1,500 fish species. It truly is an amazing place.

Deserts cover much of central and northwest Australia. In fact there are about 530,000 square miles of desert covering almost 40% of the continent. There are actually 10 deserts in Australia scattered throughout the Outback. It's dry, it’s hot and gas stations are hundreds of miles apart. Rainfall is rare. The land is unforgiving. Adventurous vacationers are advised to drive carefully and stay on the main roads. Scorpions, spiders, snakes and other desert life-forms lurk and the careless must pray their Australia travel insurance covers flying doctors and venom antidote.

Australia - Near the Oodnadatta Track

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Australian rainforest. The Gondwana Rainforests of Australia also known as the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserve are the oldest tropical rainforest in the world. Located near the border of New South Wales-Queensland border, it covers 3,700 kilometers and is home to more than 200 rare species of plants and animals. Eighty percent of the flowers here are found nowhere else in the world. Scientist believe the vegetation is much like it was 150 million years ago. Lace up your boots, look sharp and enjoy yourself.

With a little luck and a good Australian guide you can complete your Australian adventure holiday weary, but wiser.

Friday, July 8, 2011

3 Rugged Phones For Outdoors Life

For anyone who works or plays in the outdoors and needs a rugged and reliable phone, there are a number of good choices. Many of the current cell phones on the markets have very large and vulnerable touchscreen displays and are not well equipped for environments where dirt, dust and water may harm the phone. One of the following three phones will surely stand up to any extreme conditions that it is exposed to. They are not short on the features you need in a mobile and have internet and GPS for tracking, and enough space for all your phone numbers, and cameras for taking snaps in the landscape you are exposed to.

Motorola Brute i686
The Motorola Brute i686 is a phone that features the Sprint and Nextel direct connect function. This allows users to talk via walkie-talkie. This flip phone includes Bluetooth, a 2.0 megapixel camera, GPS and web browsing. The Brute meets military specifications that are set up for dust, vibration, shock, moisture, temperature and solar radiation. This is the baseline standard by which the military measures how durable a product is against these environmental situations. Additionally, this phone features text messaging and e-mail, as well as vibration alert.

Casio GzOne
The Casio GzOne Ravine is another flip phone that is designed to withstand dust, water and dirt. It is shockproof and comes with outdoor related features such as a thermometer, compass, pedometer and more. Included on this phone is a large display on the outside of the body, a built in music and media player, Bluetooth and a 3.2 mega pixel camera. The Gzone is one solid feature rich phones perfect for your adventuring.

Samsung Rugby
Finally, the Samsung Rugby is another durable flip phone that features the push to talk capability. This phone comes with GPS, a 1.3 mega pixel camera, Internet browsing and Bluetooth. It meets the military specifications and is a relatively inexpensive choice for anyone who purchases a phone plan contract.

Cell phones can take a lot of abuse. To ensure that they will last a long time, the right rugged one should be chosen. The phones above all are solid with the features that you need so get the rugged phone you need and get out there and enjoy the great outdoors.

Written by James a Tech worker and constant phone abuser. Need tough technology so come back to see more Tech that can take abuse.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Visiting Fiji in summer

Fiji is a beautiful chain of islands located in the Pacific Ocean. As far as flight time is concerned, it takes around four hours from Sydney, three hours from Auckland and roughly six hours from Honolulu. Most airlines that fly around the south Pacific area stop in Fiji. This makes finding reasonable ticket prices fairly easy to do, as it is a popular holiday destination. For traveler coming from Australia or New Zealand they will not need visas. However, the passport must be valid up to six months beyond the time they leave Fiji. Everyone else will need to get visas to legally visit Fiji.

Fiji has tropical weather and the seasons can be divided into two parts, a wet season and a dry season. The dry season starts around the month of May and ends in October. Predictably, this is the most popular time to visit and it is also when tickets will be the most expensive. June and July are the peak seasons for visiting Fiji in the summer. Along with tickets, you can expect accommodations to cost more also, during this time frame. Fijian summer happens from December to February and the temperatures can easily reach 30C plus. Most of the visitors are from Australia and New Zealand goes to Fiji at this time, as it coincides with school holidays.

November, February and March are the lowest point of vacation season to these islands and therefore, the cheapest time to visit. Remember, Fiji is not just one island but several islands. The total population is close to a million and most speak English. As far as packing clothes are concerned light clothes and open toe shoes will be enough. If you are from Australia or New Zealand and are planning to take electrical equipment, then electrical plugs from these countries will work in Fiji.

As far as cheap international flights to Fiji are concerned, they should be easy to find it. As mentioned before, Fiji, especially during summer time, is a popular destination. Many travel agencies give package deals on Fiji holidays which you and your family can take advantage of. Once you reach it, there will be plenty of activities to do. If you are staying at a self-catering villa, then buying food from local markets would be the thing to do. Prices will be quite a bit cheaper compared to the food served at resorts. As far as local transportation is concerned, the two main islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu, is served by local buses.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Beauty of Abruzzo

Abruzzo is located in Italy, fifty miles to the west of Rome. It is bordered to the east by the Adriatic Sea, Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and Molise to the southeast. The region is the considered as the geographic center of the Italian Peninsula making it prime area for both tourists and locals alike.

The region, owing to its rich medieval history, has become one of the prime tourist locations in the country. There are many castles and townships in the area, especially in the town of L’Aquila, earning for it the nickname “Abruzzoshire”. Aside from its rich history, Abruzzo is famed for their ski slopes, totaling twenty-one all in all measuring nearly four hundred kilometers long. The best ones are in Roccaraso, Campo Felice and Campo Imperatore. These three towns are located high up in the Apennine mountain range located in the heart of Abruzzo. The area is best known for cross-country skiing and other winter activities almost the whole year round.

With the Apennines as the backdrop, the sport of climbing also is one of the burgeoning tourist activities in the region. Located nearby is Italy’s highest peak, the Corno Grande. The area is also home to Il Calderone, Europe’s southernmost glacier. These together with the Corno Piccolo make the area ideal for mountain hikes for novices to sheer rock climbing faces for the expert ascents. For those just wanting to commune with nature, there is the Maiella, allowing individuals and families to hike and live with nature.

If you are not into snow and ice adventure, you can spend your days in the region on the sun under the sand. The Abruzzo region is 129 kms long of sandy beachhead where many beach resorts can be found. The best ones in the region are called Vasto near the southern coast of the region and Silvi Marina. Other well-known beaches are Giulianova, Francavilla al Mare and Pineto also on the southern coast while on the northern end are Alba Adriatica and Martinsicuro. Here, you can enjoy the fine Adriatic Sea with the sun and even the nightlife on the resorts to party and enjoy until the morning light.

Abruzzo offers the best places for tourists to choose from all of Italy. If you want to enjoy the white powdery snow slopes for winter adventure, then Abruzzo offers the Apennines region. If you want to enjoy fun in the sun, then there is the beachhead of the Adriatic. In between, you can enrich your history with a tour of the medieval towns in the region. All in all, this is the beauty of Abruzzo offered to its tourists and visitors.

For a more comprehensive discussion on purchasing property, do visit us at Secret Ski and Sun Region Revealed as Property Buyers Find the Price is Right please visit the author’s site The Property Community