Tuesday, December 11, 2018
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Some of the Best US Road Trips for Every Type of Traveller

You don’t have to be 21 to enjoy a road trip, you can head off with the freedom of the open road before you at any stage of your life, in any circumstance, and with anyone you please, within reason of course. Road trips are the ultimate sign of carefree travel, basically total and utter freedom, and the chance to go wherever you please. Of course, following a prescribed trail is always the best way to see sights, and if you’ve always dreamed of visiting the US and heading off on one of the many epic road trips on offer, then you have a huge decision to make.

Of course, some road trip routes are best for certain types of people, e.g. couples and families, and others are better for other types of people, such as groups of friends looking for party hot spots. It all really depends on your situation, so here’s a few ideas to get your appetite going for your next road trip adventure.

Overseas Highway, Florida

Best for – Couples, retirees, nature lovers

Sun-drenched Florida is beautiful, we all know this, but the Overseas Highway will show you sights to make your jaw drop. This is a great route for couples, as some of the scenery is certainly romantic, and the laid-back vibe is great for retirees looking for a chilled-out, nature-filled break.

Pacific Coast Highway

Best for – Retirees, families, couples

This is a famous road trip, and one which will show you some of the most beautiful sights the US has on offer. Spanning across California, Oregon and Washington, you will pass ocean clifftop views, towns, coastal mountains, small communities, and large cities, as you wind up in Washington, where there is more than enough to keep a family occupied. Certainly one for the camera.

Route 12, Utah

Best for – families, couples

If you like your scenery high up and jaw-dropping then this is for you. This is one of the most spectacular roads in the word, lasting for 124 miles from Capitol Reef National Park, to Bryce Canyon National Park. The fact you’re travelling from one national park to another should really tell you something about the scenes you’re going to pass. Kids will love the unusual landscapes, and couples will find the whole thing rather romantic too.

Beartooth Highway – Montana and Wyoming

Best for – Groups, families

The Beartooth Highway is one of the most beautiful you will ever happen across, running from the north of Yellowstone (which kids will adore), through to Absaroka-Beartooth National Wilderness. This is a high altitude route, one with rugged and wild scenery, and is also fantastic for groups who enjoy camping and outdoor activities.

Highway 2, Nebraska

Best for – Groups

The good thing about Highway 2 is that is offers the best of both worlds – nature and city life, making it great for groups of friends who want to get out and explore, before heading to Nebraska City for a spot of partying at the end of it all. Around 200 miles of countryside and dramatic sights greet you running from South Dakota, split into two segments, before ending near Nebraska City itself. Sprawling, but worth it.

If you’re feeling the call of the open road, these suggestion should certainly whet your appetite.

Photo Credit: fotogake

Caribbean Cruises – The Ultimate Family Vacation

Once upon a time, if you went on a cruise then you were one of two things – either very rich, or let’s say, a little on the older side. These days, that’s all changed, and more and more of us are heading off on a cruise to enjoy several destinations in the space of one vacation, whilst being spoilt with the perks of our cruise ship at the same time.

The great news is that the cost of cruises has fallen so much over the last few years, making it easy to pick up a jaunt around some of the most beautiful destinations in the world for much less than before. Of course, one of the most popular regions to cruise is the Caribbean, and it’s no surprise when you picture the sun-drenched islands and laid-back vibe which is synonymous with the region.

You might not have pictured the Caribbean as a place for a family vacation, not least a cruise, but there are many reasons why this is actually the perfect place and way to enjoy family time in the sun.

All inclusive

Many cruises are an all-inclusive kind of deal; obviously do check this with your particular company, but this does save money on endless soft drinks and snacks. You also know that you don’t have to budget throughout your vacation, as the important side of it is already paid for.

Each Caribbean island is different

You might be under the false assumption that each island is the same, but they all have quirks and differences which set them apart. Each island also has distinct history, and educating the kids on this can make your vacation educational, as well as fun.

The laid back vibe means fun, fun, fun

During shore excursions you will find endless family-friendly activities, such as water parks, nature walks, beach time, and water-sports to enjoy, so there’s no chance of getting bored.

You could consider a twin centre break

Because of the Caribbean’s close proximity to Florida, there is an ever growing popularity with a two centre break – that is having a week in Orlando, perhaps enjoying the theme park fun, and a week on a cruise, giving you the best of both worlds for all the family.

It’s not as expensive as you think

It obviously depends on how long you’re wanting to cruise for, but you can easily pick up a cruise out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale for much less than you may think, and when you factor in the all-inclusive element, you’re looking at a cheap family holiday if you can do it right.

Cruise ships are packed with attractions

A cruise ship is actually a floating holiday resort, and provided you pick the right company, i.e. one which is extremely family-friendly, then you’re looking at not one utterance of ‘I’m bored!’. Swimming pools, rides, shows, kids’ clubs, snack bars, entertainment – basically a cruise ship will have everything on it you need for a fun-filled vacation, and you can feel safe in the knowledge that your little ones are safe and looked after too.

Basically, cruising around one of the most beautiful and shimmering destinations the world has to offer is a given regardless of who you’re travelling with, but sharing it with your family is something to behold.

Photo Credit: Charles Slang

Shop ‘til You Drop in Jakarta!

We all know that huge cities have many things in common – a massive range of hotels, culture in abundance, gastronomy, a busy and frenetic atmosphere, night-life, theatre, shows, and of course, shopping. Jakarta is certainly a version of shopping heaven!

You might not have huge shopping malls in your mind when you picture the Indonesian capital, but the fact remains that there are a wide range of malls to suit your needs, and Jakarta is the shopping capital of the country, as well as the capital city itself! Locals flock to these huge, air-conditioned buildings at the weekends, and every other day you will find them packed with tourists too. Put simply, Jakarta is not going to leave you wanting when it comes to retail therapy.

Jakarta City (6)

When planning a city break, you do need to make sure you are centrally based, because there really is no point in commuting in and out of the city every single day, especially when you are on a short break as it is. There are many central hotels to choose from in Jakarta, and the huge range on offer does nothing to cut down your choices! You’re going to have to give this some thought, but you can easily find the best hotels online, from the comfort of your living room. The Gran Melia Jakarta is a great central choice, with plentiful luxury to help your feet recover after a long day shopping! Check out what you can find and make sure you base yourself in the middle of the action.

Of course, you will want to sample some of the traditional during your visit, and this will mean heading to one of the local pasars, or markets. Here you can haggle for souvenirs to take home, and enjoy the bustling and colourful atmosphere around you. If however you prefer something a little more modern, and a little more air-conditioned, you certainly won’t struggle for somewhere to go!

Basically, it all depends on what you want, but if you’re looking for serious credit card bashing with a spot of designer fashion shopping, you can find the big named designers, and then some! Versace, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada, Chanel, the list goes on! The best malls to head to for this kind of retail therapy include Plaza Indonesia, Grand Indonesia, Pacific Place, Mall of Indonesia, and Pondok Indah 2. These particular malls are packed with stores you will stare at in envy for hours, however if you are on more of a budget, you can easily window shop too!

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If you want to try out some traditional Indonesian fashion, most malls have an area which caters for your needs, with well-known local stores, such as Obin, Ramli, Kisoon Harto, and Iwan Tirta.

Of course, you might be visiting with your little ones in tow, and in that case you there are also many family-friendly malls on offer, which give you entertainment options for all the family. Pacific Place has the Kidzania facility, which will more than keep little minds occupied, and Taman Anggrek has an indoor ice skating rink, which may offer some welcome respite from the heat outside!

Put simply, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Jakarta, you’re not going to find it anywhere!

Queenstown – The Adventure Capital of the World

New Zealand is one of those destinations that everyone wants to explore, simply because they have heard about it, and because it seems exotic and far-flung. Well, yes it is, but it’s also surprisingly accessible and very easy to get around too.

If this doesn’t sound like the ideal recipe to get out and explore this wonderful country, I don’t know what does!

Aside from Hobbits, Middle Earth, and stunning scenery, New Zealand is known for its adventure activities, and those seeking adrenaline boosting fun should be heading directly to Queenstown.

Situated on the South Island, with the huge and imposing Southern Alps as its backdrop, Queenstown sits on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu, but is also a vibrant city in its own right. Aside from this, you can enjoy many scenic drives and walks around the city, and renting a car is perhaps the ideal way to get out and explore; driving in the country is safe, with well-marked roads. Around the region you will also find many vineyards, famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in particular, with scenery as calm and serene as this picture sounds.

Of course, calm and serene can easily be shattered by the sounds of adrenaline rushing screams!

It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit Queenstown, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to adventure activities to take part in. Because of the city’s close proximity to the mountains, skiing is possible during the winter months, with some of the biggest and highest drops in the country; head off piste and enjoy backcountry routes if you feel the need to amp up the adventure in your day.

During the summer months you will find even more in the way of adrenaline, and one of the most famous is of course bungee jumping. Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is a favourite spot of this scary sport, and one which will certainly get your blood pumping!

If jumping from a bridge attached to elastic, so to speak, doesn’t float your boat, how about sky diving? Or maybe paragliding, jet boating, or even canyoning and rafting? If you feel the need for something adventurous, but slightly more serene, how about a horse trekking day out through some seriously stunning scenery?

Whether you’re off to enjoy adventure and adrenaline or not, exploring the region is a must do, because the sights you will enjoy are like nowhere else on earth. You will be needing your camera for this one, and a self-drive journey around the region is without a doubt the best way to explore on your own steam. Check out your licence requirements and shop around for hire deals, to keep all your corners covered.

So, if you’re looking for adventure, the only destination you need explore is Queenstown.

Some rights reserved by Geee Kay

Head to Amsterdam and Chow Down Some Authentic Cuisine

Food glorious food?

You might not have Amsterdam on your foodie radar, but if this is the case, you’re seriously missing out on some delicious treats to try!

Every single city in the world has its delicacies, in fact every single country in the world does, but Dutch food is hearty, filling, and mouth-watering. Visitors to Amsterdam generally head to the tulips, the canals, or the Red Light District, but missing out on the many restaurants and snack bars is a big mistake.

Perhaps the best way to enjoy authentic cuisine at many of the Amsterdam is by visiting a local family and enjoying an authentic meal. This is a great way to enjoy traditions, and learn more about the way of life in the city. If you can, this is a definite must do, because it will enhance your visit to massive levels. Polenta with rabbit stew is perhaps one of the delicacies you will enjoy with a local family.

If you prefer to stick to tourist restaurants however, then you won’t be struggling for choice. Always try and remember to at least sample some local cuisine, because burgers and chips can be eaten anywhere in the world! The local food markets in the city are a great way to try new things, without it costing the earth; Albert Cuyp Markt and Noodermarkt are two notable ones to try.

Here are a few local dishes you should put on your hitlist.

Patatje oorlog – These are chips, but no ordinary chips! Smothered in mayo, sate sauce, and sautéed onions, these chips are like the daddy of chip meals, and another bonus is that this is a very cheap street food dish, one which you will find basically anywhere around the city. It’s no surprise to learn that this is the favourite post alcohol snack of party-goers around the city when the clubs close.

Poffertjes – If you have a sweet tooth, this is a snack for you! Again, this is street food which you will find in many different places across the city, and is basically small pancakes which are smothered in butter and powdered sugar – not so great for the waistline, but fantastic for the taste-buds!

Broodje haring – You might not like the sound of raw herring, but when eaten as a sandwich it’s delicious. This is a Dutch favourite, freshly caught, and something you should eat fresh from fishmonger markets.

Stamppot – You’ll find stamppot in most restaurants, and again, it’s low cost. This is basically creamy mashed potato with vegetables, accompanied by sausage. Quite inoffensive and easy to try for those who are a little picky with their food – baby steps!

These are just four of the delicious delicacies and traditional street foods you should try when you visit Amsterdam. Locals are busy people, going about their daily lives, and they tend to eat on the go, hence why street foods are so popular.

Give them a try, you might find a new favourite!

Some rights reserved by stijn

Enterprise Is There When You Need It

It does happen from time to time where you will need to rent a car. Whether you have your car in the repair shop, or you just don’t have one, renting a car is a good option to have. Unfortunately, there are so many places to rent a car, so where do you go? Well, the choice is simple, Enterprise Rent A Car, who has been in business for over 58 years. For those who want great service and a discount auto rental, Enterprise is the place to go. They make renting a car simple and easy with prices that are very favorable for anyone’s budget.

For convenience, they have several locations, as well as a good online website. All you have to do is provide information as to what day you need to rent, the amount of days, the pick-up time and place, the type of vehicle and you are ready to roll.

One of their best features is that they come and pick you up, which is great because there were times in the past you wanted to rent a car but were unable to get there, Enterprise solved that problem. If you are dropping your car for repairs or maintenance, Enterprise will pick you up from the dealership, take you to their office where you can rent a car.

Enterprise makes customer service their top priority as evidenced by being voted very high in customer satisfaction. They also provide excellent service to and from airports. Enterprise is in over 66 countries around the world. In addition to providing first rate service Enterprise has created a foundation where they have contributed over 200 million to many local non-profit organizations that focus on improving the communities, education and the environment. You have to respect a company that does that.

Finding a Enterprise rental discount is not hard at all. The internet is a great place to start, coupons can also be found in newspapers or mailers. It is a good idea look for them if you are thinking about renting a car.

Enterprise has many different types of vehicles to choose from starting with their economy class to intermediate, full size to luxury to full size SUV’s and everything else in between. They also have vans that can fit up to 15 passengers and elite luxury vehicles for those who want to drive in high class style.

It doesn’t matter what the reason may be, renting a car is hassle free with Enterprise Rent a Car. They will get you the vehicle that you want, at a great price. With Enterprise rental deals is the norm not the exception. Save yourself some time and headaches, go to Enterprise first.

Some rights reserved by Bob B. Brown

The Origins of Casino Games

 

Betting has been a popular pastime among civilizations around the world for well over two millennia now, but it wasn’t until 1638, when the Ridotto opened in Venice, that the casino was born. The centuries that have passed have seen many changes in how we play casino games, from the invention of completely new games to variations on old classics. The advancements in new technology, in particular the Internet, has revolutionised casino gaming in the 21st century, allowing players not only the convenience of playing from home but also providing them with many new games.

Roulette

Invented by the famous 17th Century scientist Pascal, Roulette is one of the most popular casino games. While a simple game you’ll find many players have complex strategies in order to maximise their winnings. Pascal’s original roulette wheel comprised of pockets numbered 1-36, half of which were red and half of which were black. As the ball is spun around the wheel players bet on the pocket that the ball will land, they can bet on the number, colour and if the number is odd or even. Despite remaining largely the same, Pascal’s roulette wheel has altered over the years, the first change came in 1842 when an extra pocket was added, numbered 0 and coloured green. Though this didn’t make a huge difference to the game, it did tilt the odds slightly in favour of the house. When roulette crossed the Atlantic to the saloons of America it was changed once again, a further green pocket, numbered 00, being added. The odds of the game seemed to be drifting further and further in favour of the house, but online gaming has brought with it many variations on this casino classic, one of which is French roulette. With only one green pocket the game already offers better odds than American roulette, add to that the fact that any even money bets are returned half their stake, and you’ll find a game that offers players great value for money.

Blackjack

Another French game that has found itself being played in casinos all across the world is blackjack. In this game players attempt make the sum of their cards amass 21. Players initially receive two cards from the dealer and after this a single card is dealt every round while players decide to ‘hit’ (take another card) or ‘stand’ (not take another card). If a player’s cards exceed 21 they are ‘bust’ and out of the game. At the end of the game the player with the cards closest to 21 wins and takes the pot. Blackjack is the most popular casino banking game, one of the main reasons for that being that the odds are very good for the player. As with most casino games, online gaming has brought with it many variations of blackjack enabling players to find a game that best fits their strategy.

Poker

Poker is perhaps the most glamorous of all the casino games, largely due to the amount of skill that the game requires. Numerous variations of poker exist but the objective of them all remains the same – to have the strongest hand when the game finishes. The winner may not necessarily have the strongest hand throughout, but players use betting as a way to bluff and read their opponents in hope that they ‘fold’ and don’t continue to the end. This is why poker remains one of the most popular games in the casino despite being almost 200 years old, players rely on skill more than luck meaning they can help dictate their chances of winning. Poker has become more and more popular online as the Internet has advanced, players now able to test their skills against not only a computer but also real people.

Some rights reserved by I-5 Design & Manufacture

Can You Still Visit Greece After the Financial Crisis?

There is a rather resounding answer to that question – yes!

If you are looking to visit the beautiful mainland or islands of Greece, and you’re worried about economic and financial stability following the crisis that took place during the early part of summer 2015, then you can be reassured that a) hopefully the worst is over, and that b) as a tourist, you won’t notice much difference at all, provided you’re aware of what’s going on.

I guess we should fill in the blanks as to what this financial crisis was all about before we go any further into reassuring you of how it is.

The crisis actually began many years ago, basically because the Greek government had policies in place which caused overspending, but in order to bridge the gap, external loans were arranged in order to cover it. This was fine until the national debt grew to an amount that was too difficult to manage, and the country was unable to borrow any further funds, plunging it into financial crisis. The EU helped out initially, putting in place a series of debt reduction and management routes, with the aim to get Greece back on track, however the fact remains that the government in Greece is the largest employer in the country, and cuts in wages obviously caused strikes and protests in the capital. Unemployment soared, and further economic and political situations worsened.

On 14 August 2015, the Eurozone agreed to a bailout, which drastically reduces the chances of Greece leaving the Euro, and hopefully stabilises the situation.

The general advice is that after this time, anyone visiting Greece won’t notice a difference in terms of tourism, and that this beautiful country remains somewhere visitors should head and enjoy. Any protests are likely to be centred within the main squares of Athens, and the advice is to avoid any protests, and also to avoid any political conversations with locals. Simply enjoy Greece for the beauty it holds.

You may have heard of cashpoint restrictions and lack of cash in the machines, but provided you take enough Euros with you for the duration of your stay, keeping them safe of course, then you should have no problems. Simply make sure that your Euro notes are of a lower denomination, to avoid problems with change. Caps on the amount you can take out of a cash point are for Greek nationals only, however there were many reports previously of excessive queues at cashpoints and a lack of money in the machines – this should be resolved mostly now. You can use your credit and debit cards with no problems too.

There is no reason why you shouldn’t travel to Greece and enjoy every single drop of it, whether you choose to head to the historic mainland, or the beautiful sun-drenched islands, of which there are many to choose from. Greece may have its financial problems, and of course as a globe we should pay heed to them, but in terms of tourism, it’s business as usual.

Photo Credit: mariusz kluzniak

How to Make the Most of Your Vacation Time

Time away from the boring hum-drum of work and daily life means you can kick back and relax, or perhaps kick your heels up and party!

Because of the precious nature of our vacation time, it’s important to grab every second and pull out all the stops to make every tick of the clock count. How you make it count is really personal, in terms of what you do with it, but how to make the most of it is something that can be learnt.

Be clever with your time off work

When planning when to ask for vacation time, take into account weekends and public holidays, in order to get the most out of your annual leave. For instance, if you don’t regularly work on the weekends or public holidays, plan to go away during that time, because that way you get extra time away from home, but you only put in a minimal amount of days off from your work holiday allowance. Every day counts here!

Plan a little/do your research

If there are things you really want to see from the destination you’re heading to, then it’s important to at least plan ahead a little. I’m not suggesting you get the clipboard out and plan a rigid itinerary, but it’s important to look at when things are closed at the very least, so you’re not wasting your precious vacation time. Equally, you don’t want to be getting up in the mornings and wandering around aimlessly whilst you try and decide what to do and where to go; a little planning works wonders.

On top of this, research into costs and how to get to places will also save you time.

See if you can put several destination into one break, e.g. a cruise

If you’re keen to see a region overall, but you don’t have the time to travel round on your own steam, e.g. by train or car for example, why not consider a cruise? The bonus to a cruise is that you get to see bite-size pieces of a region without putting in any effort, and that in itself is getting the most out of one particular vacation.

Budget your money so you can see more

Cash has to come into it, otherwise you’re going to be sat in your hotel room not able to go out because you ran out of cash early. Be a little frugal, especially at the beginning of your vacation, so you know your money is going to last you for the duration. Any major trips or spending, save towards the end of your time away, to make it all stretch.

Put down the phone! Forget the emails!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in order to enjoy your vacation time as much as possible, you have to immerse yourself in it fully. Forget work, you’re not there and there’s nothing you can do, forget Facebook unless it’s to keep in touch occasionally back home, and Twitter can wait. Take the time to look at what is around you and you will certainly get the most out of your vacation time, and then some.

Photo Credit: GotCredit

Exploring Outback Australia

Aside from perhaps Sydney, there is no image more synonymous with Australia than the outback. Miles and miles of nothingness, total vast wilderness, before happening upon one of the most jaw-dropping sights you’ll ever see in your life – this is a common occurrence when you explore the Australian outback.

Of course, there is a little bit of outback in every state, and some are more remote than others, such as the famous Red Centre, home of Uluru and the aboriginal culture you simply have to learn about. You can choose to take a guided tour, perhaps a hop on and off bus, or you can venture out into the outback yourself. This is totally safe provided you heed advice and prepare yourself accordingly; travelling in the outback is not something you should do without learning about it first.

The Western Australian outback is the largest expanse of outback territory in the country, and you’ll see some awesome rock formations in this particular area, such as the Pinnacles, before exploring The Kimberley, or perhaps Kalgoorlie and its former gold rush history. The Gibb River Road will take you through some of the most iconic and remote areas in the whole of the country too.

You could cross the Nullarbor, explore the Red Centre, camp under the stars near Uluru, visit Kings Canyon, or the Flinders Ranges. If you want to have real bragging rights, how about riding the longest stretch of straight railway, on the Indian Pacific Railway? Or perhaps the Ghan Railway. Exploring by rail is a great way to appreciate the passing landscapes, and the odd kangaroo or two as well.

There are several road trip routes you could follow if you prefer to do it all yourself, such as Explorers Highway, Red Centre way, and you could do it all via Alice Springs and enjoy the laid-back outback city life before you venture off into the vast wilderness.

Basically, exploring the outback is an adventure like no other, but it is one you need to prepare for. If you are heading off in a 4×4 vehicle then make sure you get it serviced well beforehand, check your insurance details, and load it up with plenty of stock, such as blankets, sun-screen, water, snacks etc. Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure you have a phone charger which works in your car, be aware of lack of phone service, and don’t travel with too many valuables.

Be sensible, this is not an adventure to take lightly. Having said that however, if you give the outback the respect it deserves, it will reward you with some of the most awe-inspiring scenery and experiences you will ever have anywhere else in your life.

If you’re heading off on a guided tour, you don’t have to worry about any of this, simply make sure you pack everything you need for yourself. If you’re off on a rail adventure, check fares ahead of time, as the most popular routes sell out fast, and check your permitted ‘hopping’ allowances to avoid problems along the way.

The outback is stunning, explore it and see for yourself.

Photo Credit: Nicolò Bonazzi

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