Author: Richard Telling

Portovenere

Portovenere’s old buildings and narrow streets complete its medieval appeal. It is known for its rich culture and traditional way of life. Its inhabitants are also applauded for maintaining a harmonious relationship with the natural landscape. These are just some of the reasons why, together with Cinque Terre and the whole eastern Ligurian Riviera; the village is hailed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Portovenere’s layout looks like it was always meant to be a tourism town. As you walk through its main street called Via Capellini, you will be greeted by a series of shops and restaurants. The Pietro Church is one of the most important historical sites in Portovenere and the church’s origins go back all the way to the 6th century. During the 13th century, a bell tower and Gothic-designed sections were added to it.

Another religious building you should explore is the 12th century Church of San Lorenzo, with its impressive Romanesque facade. Lastly, you cannot leave Portovenere without dropping by the Doria Castle. Built between the 12th and 17th centuries; the castle has become the village’s iconic landmark. Visitors to the village usually go for a leisurely walk up the hill, where the castle is nestled. This grand fortress opens its doors during summer. This is also the period when it hosts a number of art exhibits.

Another lovely walking spot is the promenade along the harbor. Here, you don’t have to worry about competing with vehicles as the entire area is for pedestrians only. You can take your time and admire the colorful homes that line the promenade. If you go all the way to the other side, you will come across Byron’s Cave. It is possible to swim near the coast, but there are no sandy beaches. Fortunately, you can easily head out to the nearby island of Palmaria to satisfy your desire for sandy stretches.

Palmaria is the largest of the three islands situated just across the strait. There are several excursion boats that are scheduled to bring tourists to these islands from Portovenere every day. So, you do not have to worry about finding a way to make it to Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. Aside from having nice beaches, Palamaria’s main attractions include the Blue Grotto and the cave named Grotta dei Colombi. Although, they are both military zones, Tino and Tenetto are the homes of an 11th century abbey and a 6th century monastery respectively.

Cruise Line Brochures

Some cruise lines feature their entire fleet with the itineraries in one brochure. Others have brochures for each destination–such as the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Alaska, Hawaii and Europe.

The front of the brochure has the table of contents. Here you will also find the illustrations and photos, along with description of the cruise line and the itineraries available in that particular brochure.

Next you will usually find information on any special programs offered such as their kids programs. You will also find a brief description of the ports of call and shore excursions offered.

Deck Plans, Staterooms & Fares, hotel stays and past guest programs are usually listed next. A deck plan is a map of the ship that lists all levels of accommodations, shows the location of the restaurants, bars & lounges, swimming pools, fitness center, spa, shops, casino, kid’s center and everything else the ship has to offer.

The last few pages of the brochure is where you will find the “fine print”. This section usually includes the following information –welcome aboard info, Q&A’s, terms and conditions, what you need to know before you go, important policies and has cruise line contact information. Make sure you read it very carefully!! Always be prepared for modifications in the itinerary as well on board amenities. Never book a cruise based on the itinerary only. If you read the “fine print” you will find that the cruise line reserves the right to change the itinerary for any reason.

The back of the brochure is also where you usually find the information on Air&Sea programs, cancellation insurance and and amenity packages offered for your cruise.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania that was just a short drive to Harpers Ferry. I would go there often as a day trip, sometimes just to get away from the hustle and bustle of work and school and other times to share the town with friends and family. Every trip I made, I always learned something new about the area or saw something that I hadn’t noticed before.

There is so much to see and do at Harpers Ferry. When you arrive in the town, you will think that you can go through it in about 2 hours and be done. While it is a small town, it is packed full of interesting stores and tours that could easily keep you around for a long weekend. If you visit this town, prepare to arrive early in the morning so that you can take it all in.

Harpers Ferry history includes the site of the famous John Brown’s raid. You can read about the raid and trace the steps of this famous event. This town is also the site of the first integrated high school and the site of the first successful railroad. There are historic homes that you can tour and an old grave yard that contains tomb stones that predate the Civil War. You can use a map to do your own tour or take a guided tour of the area.

If you want to shop, you will find anything from antique stores to stores that sell local arts and crafts. There is a jewelry store that contains beaded and gem jewelry. There are a few restaurants that all have great food and an ice cream parlor that you must visit. Don’t forget to take pictures of yourself with famous people in the wax museum.

Once you have toured the town itself, you can hike the outlying areas. There is an old railroad track that overlooks the rivers. You can hike up to the top of Maryland Heights. You can find walking and driving guides online or at the entrance to the park.

If you are ever in the West Virginia area, I highly recommend that you make a stop in Harpers Ferry. Between the beauty, the history and the shopping, you will find a little something for everything in this quaint town.

Amazing Alaskan Cruise

  • When can you actually travel to Alaska? Although winter time is not the best time to travel, you can visit anytime you would like to. The Alaskan cruises, though, usually run from May to September when the waters are easily traveled.
  • Which cruise line should I use? There are many cruise lines that run through this line. It is your best bet to consider which fits your budget as well as your specific entertainment and travel goals. The Alaskan lines offer many wonderful choices in entertainment and sight seeing even some of which offer specific choices.
  • When should I plan my vacation? It is best to start planning early, in the off seasons. Many people make reservations for their Alaskan cruise well in advance especially if you are traveling in the summer months when space is limited. If you go in May or in September, crowds are less likely yet you still should plan ahead.

The Alaskan cruise offers many adventures. It is not just a boat ride into the cold waters. You will find many enjoyable things to do and to see in Alaska, all of which will allow you to enjoy the things that interest you. When planning your Alaskan cruise, make sure to check out several opportunities so that you can find the best part for you. You can even do this on the web.

Eastern Carribean Cruises

An Eastern Caribbean cruise will take you to the American and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and the Bahamas. December to April is the peak tourist season, when tourists from all around the globe flock here. However, you will get the best bargains during the lean season, during the summer and fall months. But there is a catch to it. The hurricane season is from June to November, and it is wise to avoid these parts of the world at this time. You would definitely not want to be marooned in your hotel room with a storm raging outside.

For short cruises, you can opt for Carnival and Disney, whose ships ply the whole year round but travel only to the Bahamas, while Royal Caribbean’s fleet has a three-night tour covering San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. However, the seven-night tours are the hugely popular ones. These will take you to Jost Van Dyke, San Juan, St. Martin, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Virgin Gorda. These are the traditional stops in a usual Eastern Caribbean cruise, but old-timers who would like to venture to offbeat places can opt for fleets that will ferry them to St. John, Norman Island and Water Island. The new kids on the block are Tortola and Dominican Republic with the upscale resort Caso de Campo. Rapidly finding favor with the tourists, these places are increasingly being covered by the cruise lines.

The Eastern Caribbean offers immense possibilities for exploration. The cruise lines, fuelled by tourist demand, are not averse to venturing into hitherto uncharted territories either. Thus, quaint, sleepy, tucked-away towns and villages are being unearthed and placed on the tourist map.

Hassle Free Trip To Vietnam

If you are eligible for a visa on arrival, then you don’t have to go to Vietnam Embassy and wait for long hours. You can simply go online and fill out a form asking some basic details about you. If you go by the normal procedures, then you will have to wait for days to receive the approval letter, but in this case, all such things are eliminated. You just have to wait up to two days for the letter of approval, which will come in the form of an email.

Once you get the email, then you can pack your bags and drive to your city’s International Airport. In Vietnam, there are three International Airports named, Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, NoiBai International Airport in Hanoi and Da Nang Airport in Da Nang. You can choose the airport you want to enter the country from. Once you land at the Airport, you will have to get a stamp on your approval letter to enter the Vietnam.

There is a special window created just to stamp the approval letter of those passengers who want to have a Visa On Arrival. This window remains open at all times, so you can land at the airport at any time and get your approval letter stamped without any issues. There is a specific reason for the 24 hour operation of this window, i.e., people come to this country from all around the world, so they need an efficient and incessant service round the clock.

If you are applying for an online visa, then you can pay the fees through your credit card. There is no need to write a check or any paperwork. On the arrival, you again have to loose your pocket and this time, it would be the stamping fee that you have to pay for. You can pay by cash at this moment of time. The Stamping officer will ask for your two passport size passport pictures, so you must have them.

The only thing that you need to make sure is, provide accurate information all the time. The visa process for any country can be made a lot easier if people provide their respective embassies and officers with an accurate information. Vietnam visa is quite easy to get and if you will provide them all the necessary information, then you can save yourself a lot of time and money. You can choose the date of arrival in advance and in case you were not able to go on that particular date, then you can easily go to Vietnam on another date by just informing your agent.

Caribbean Cruises For Students

Several cruise liners have realized the untapped commercial potential of young people on a budget. Given the right cost bracket there are several in this group who would be eager to travel. The solution offered is cruise packages created keeping young students in mind.

Such packages offer a no frills cruise, with plenty of activities. Any extra amenities need to be paid for. Each liner sets up its own package and students may well scrutinize several such offers before opting for one.

Food is generally not included in the cost of Caribbean cruises for students. The options available are to buy food on board or stock up with non perishable food at every port of call. Students generally prefer the latter as food on board proves to be expensive.

Amenities like housekeeping, laundry services and the like are all on a pay and use basis. Rates for student cabins could start as low as $16.20 per night and go on to $120 per night. Lower rates mean shared occupancy. Cabins come equipped with basics like comfortable beds, showers and toilets.

The cruise ships adhere to strict rules with regard to boarding and check-in times at every port of call. Students are well advised to check out the times and follow them. If you miss the deadline, the ship may leave without you.

A week long Caribbean cruise for students will probably have the following itinerary. Starting from Bridgetown, Barbados going on to Kingstown, St. Vincent, Fort de France, Martinique, Bequia, The Grenadines, St George’s, Grenada, Castries, St. Lucia and then returning to Barbados.

Scenic Lijiang China

Not only does the name Lijiang prefer to the city, it is also in the name given to the whole county, which is blessed with high mountains, pastures and natural preserves. Lijiang is about 200 kilometers from Tibet and 150 kilometers from Myanmar.

Lijiang is the home of the Naxi people who have built rich the Dongba Culture for hundreds of years. One highlight of your visit here is undeniably the Ancient City District (central Dayan District), famous for its centuries-old buildings, bridges, cobbled streets and canals which collectively allow you to step back in time, and makes you want to stay here for a couple of blissful days.

This Old District captivates you with its marvelous Old Naxi architecture that reflects the blending of cultures over several centuries. Each house in Dayan is surrounded by willow trees and built by the stream. This is why people dubbed the town “Oriental Venice”. While in this ancient district, do not miss the chance to visit Sifang Street (Four Square), which is not only the central street but also a trading and distributing center. Another landmark in the Old Town worth your time is the famous Mu’s Palace (Mufu).

After exploring the district, you can head out to the neighboring area of Nanmen. Although it is a modern spot, this is where you can dine, shop and be entertained. Aside from the Ancient City District the Shuhe Town and the Baisha Quarter are part of the three districts of Lijiang that are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated on the first bend of the Yangtze River, Lijiang is also gifted with beautiful natural surroundings. This is the reason the town has become the favored gateway for attractions like Yuguan Park, Lugu Lake, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Hiking excursions are very popular and are usually organized by tour operators in Lijiang. The hordes of adventure-seeking visitors are well accommodated by the town’s wide range of inns, hostels and hotels.

Yuguan Park is a hiking haven that encompasses the scenic Black Dragon Pool and a gorgeous hill overlooking the city. Lugu Lake is home to the unique Mosuo people, who until now, observed a matriarchal society, which is why it is famously called the last “Kingdom of Women” in the world.

The (Yulong) Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, just 35 kilometers north of Lijiang is known for its very picturesque scenery. Check the postcards made for the town and region, and you will find a number that feature this spectacular mountain. During good winter weather, part of the mountain becomes a ski area ideal of beginners. This is the only ski area in the whole province of Yunnan. Take note the Jade Dragon is not a full-fledged resort but is an ideal destination for a day trip.

Napa Valley Wine Train

Aside from traveling with utmost luxury, this journey is all about going back in time as you will travel on a beautifully restored vintage train while exploring the famous American wine country. Most of the cars were built in 1915 by the renowned Pullman Standard Company and were intended to be first class coaches for the Northern Pacific Railway. These days, the refurbished cars have retained their steel structure and come with modern features such as steam heat and electric lights. They are also furnished with velveteen fabric armchairs, Honduran mahogany paneling and brass accents to achieve a high degree of luxury and comfort.

But what makes Napa Valley Wine Train even more exciting is the fantastic dining experience that comes with the train ride. You can enjoy this experience in the form of a multiple course gourmet lunch or dinner. Meals are freshly prepared in the three on board kitchens on the train. Dining arrangements for lunch packages usually follow traditional rail seating. This means that you will share a table with another party. Although it is possible to book a table all for yourself and your companion, the option is limited to when you book the Gourmet Express Package.

If you are willing to pay more, you can have your meal in the Vista Dome, where all the tables are private. Dinner on board the Napa Valley Wine Train is an entirely different experience as the tables are private, the ambiance is more formal and the dishes are complemented with glasses of fine wine. If you want a romantic date night, then there’s no other ideal package than the Moonlight Escape excursion.

Meals can be enjoyed in the first or second seating section. In the first seating section, meals are served when the train goes to St Helena. You can choose between soup or salad which accompanies the main course of your choice. Your dining experience is completed with coffee and dessert, which you can enjoy in one of the lounges while train is heading back to Napa. If you choose the second seating section, you will have appetizers on the way to St. Helena, and then have your main course on the return trip. Some examples of main course meals include roasted beef tenderloin, coriander chicken breast and grilled salmon with potatoes.

Vacations of a Lifetime

The Millennials, also known as Generation Y, a well-informed and socially responsible group of people born between the years 1980 and 2000, are transforming the travel industry, which is currently striving to respond to the changing market conditions.

The new trend among this social segment, whose members constitute the spearhead of economic activity and thus can afford to travel to foreign countries, is “reaching out to local communities, learning the local customs, and fully experiencing with all senses what each place has to offer.”

Of course, realizing how some of our supposedly innocent personal decisions may affect other people’s lives and our planet in general has also played a key role in shaping new attitudes and creating new perspectives in vacation planning, especially when travelling abroad.

As early as 1990, a number of joint initiatives aiming to strategically promote ecotourism were launched by government agencies and organizations active in tourism, and have been supported since by companies and individuals around the world.

For example, the International Ecotourism Society has been providing for decades the guidelines, setting the standards and advancing the principles of ecotourism in more than 120 countries. However, ecotourism does not always mean eco-friendly tourism. Guests could spend their vacations close to nature but at the same time leave their footprint in a way that has a negative impact in the environment and the native population.

Therefore, it comes without saying that we should all significantly contribute in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and untreatable waste by discouraging uncontrollable pollution in places we travel.

We could actively repudiate overexploitation of the environment, and hopefully avoid global warming and other undesirable or irreversible effects, if only we were more sensitive to eco-friendly vacation offers. Instead of blindly selecting one of the package deals that are usually advertised online, we should rather ask for more information about environmentally inspired trips and search on our own for the true facts.

Check out the destinations in terms of the methods they use in agriculture, transportation, energy production and recycling. You will be surprised to see that some of the most unspoiled places in our planet face unaddressed challenges because of wrongful practices in the expansion of tourism.

As far as concerns my home country, Greece, a country that almost doubles its population in summertime thanks to tourism, it is worth noting that travelers seek to have all options available. In the morning they may desire to walk alone their way discovering pathways or sail routes that usually lead to a remote beach, but also like to spend the evening tasting extraordinary food recipes of fresh “tsipoura” and “lavraki” fish, accompanied with green salad enriched with local herbs and extra virgin olive oil pressed on the olive mill of the area.

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