Author: Richard Telling

Travel to Germany

Two famous locations in the Baden-Wurttemberg region are Baden-Baden and the Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa. Baden-Baden which is located north of the Black Forest is a great summer destination as it has various spas, hiking trails, a huge promenade, spectacular springs and pastel houses. The Brenner’s Park Hotel and Spa offers you luxury comforts including a spa treatment. The Bodensee and Lake Constance are located in this region.

The Alpine Road or Deutsche Alpenstrasse presents a very beautiful scenic view. It stretches along the Bavarian Alps. The route offers a good view of the ancient and impressive towns, castles and villages. Germany’s highest mountain Zugspitse and Lake Konignesse are also found here. A part of The Romantic Road called Romantische Strasse is in Bavaria too. A very beautiful city Bamburg is also located nearby which was at one time the Holy Roman Empire’s capital.

Munich which can also be called the financial capital of Germany has got a very deep history and many museums. The Alte Pinakothek has got a very good collection of Renaissance art from the 14th to the 18th centuries including ‘Virgin and Child’ by Da Vinci, ‘Crowning with Thorns’ by Titian and artwork by Hals, Durer, Ruben and Memling. The admission fee is 4 dollars. Then there is the Deutsches Museum which is the world’s most comprehensive technical and scientific museum. You can find lots of interesting, interactive displays and films. Besides museums, Munich has lots of world-class restaurants and drinking joints. In fact, it is very famous for its Oktoberfest, a sixteen-day beer festival every October. This festival is world famous for its fun, high spirits and attracts millions of tourists every year to Munich.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany located between central and north-east. It also has several museums like the famous Science Museum, the Dahlem and the Bode Museum that holds historical relevance pertaining to the Berlin Wall. One section of the Berlin Wall still remains which is the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin is also famous for its world famous orchestra known as The Berlin Philharmonic which attracts music lovers.

Info of Tabodwe And Htamane

Now all over the country rice is harvested and there is not much time for celebrations. Yet, Tabodwe is also a joyful time that finds it culmination in the harvesting festival, Burma’s equivalent to Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day as it is called in North America. Enough rice means that the people must not starve. So, the time of rice harvesting is not only a time of hard work but also joy.

This festival is called ‘Htamane’ after the special food offering that is cooked and eaten at this time. This gives women the most welcome opportunity to provide proof of their cooking skills. Htamane consists of glutinous rice, coconut (shredded), peanut or cooking oil, peanuts (husk removed), ginger (sliced), sesame and salt.

There are three ways in which the htamane – or rice cooking festival as it is also called – is usually celebrated. These are in the private family circle or together with selected friends and neighbours or communally. Whatever way is chosen to celebrate htamane it always means a big, happy gathering because many hands are needed to get all the necessary work done. There are lots of things that need to be done; from the preparing of the ingredients of htamane to the cooking itself. The rice grains and the sesame seeds have to be winnowed, the rice to be properly washed and soaked, the coconut shells to be broken, the fibres removed, the water/milk poured out and the pulp to be shredded/sliced, the peanuts must be shelled and the husk removed, the ginger needs to be peeled and sliced, and so on and so forth.

Cooking htamane is hard work as the extremely sticky htamane that – if, for instance, the feast is celebrated together with a larger number of people – is cooked in huge iron bowls or pots on wood or charcoal fire and must for a period of about half an hour be permanently crashed and stirred with long wooden ladles. However, this part of the cooking process is – although monitored and supervised by the women – performed by two or three men simultaneously as it requires considerable strength.

While performing their soporific job the men are sheered on and encouraged with shouts by onlookers and occasionally the beat of dobats played by dobat troupes. When the first batch of htamane is ready and the first helping is offered to Gautama Buddha and pongyis the exhausted members of the cooking team sit down to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour and the next cooking team takes over, then the next, and so on.

In the following I will give you a more detailed description of how the cooking of htamane works; you may try yourself to do it.

The first step is to give the peanut oil into the pot and fry the ginger and coconut one after the other. Do not forget to strain the oil after each frying. Then you set aside the fried coconut and ginger slices. The next step is to take about half of the peanut oil off the pot.

Then, in comes the rice, which was about two hours before washed and then put into clear water to soak till it is put into the pot with the remaining peanut oil. Water is added and then the rice must cook. About 30 minutes later the rice is soft and after some of the fried coconut and ginger is put aside for later use, to decorate the helpings of htamane served that is, all of the ingredients – except the sesame – are added to the rice. Some people do at this stage remove the pot from the fire as the htamane can easily burn when it remains on the fire and is not stirred very, very properly. However, the taste is much better when the pot remains on the fire until the htamane is ready. Both ways have in common that now the stirring act begins. The rice is first kneaded and crashed between the wooden ladles and properly mixed with the ingredients while the mass is getting ever stickier so that at the end it takes great strength to make the htamane yield to the ladles.

The last and easiest part is the sprinkling of the sesame seeds. This – so it is said – needs great skill as the flavour of the htamane depends on the person sprinkling the seeds handful by handful in regular intervals into the htamane while the strong men do the hard work to stir and mix the very gluey mass with their ladles. When the last sesame is sprinkled in the htamane is ready and the pot removed from the fire.

By the by, ‘sprinkling sesame seeds’ is a Burmese idiom that is disparagingly used for putting the finishing touches to something after the heavy and/or dirty main work was done by others. So, when, for instance, you are adding some condiments to already cooked meal that to be prepared and cooked took your mother (or wife) hours you are ‘sprinkling sesame seeds’. This idiom can be applied to any kind of work and is not confined to cooking.

When the htamane is ready it is divided into helpings (which goes best with a spoon or knife dipped into oil so that the htamane does not stick), nicely decorated with shreds and slices of the fried coconut and ginger and with sesame seeds and served. The taste of htamane is… , well, all I can say is, “Hmmm, yummy, yummy.” And it is very rich; you do not need very much of it to have had your fill.

The traditional way to serve it is on a properly washed and with cooking oil rubbed banana leaf. Tradition matters greatly in Burma what shows in many aspects of Burmese people’s everyday-lives as it permeates and occasionally even controls them.

Especially in rural areas the rice is often still cooked in earthen pots with a humped lit. This has the effect that when the rice is ready it has a peak-shaped top (called crown). This ‘crown’ is the choicest part of the rice. It is carefully removed from the rest of the rice and according to an old tradition set aside and reserved for food offering to Gautama Buddha and pongyis. This tradition is called ‘top priority for those to whom respect is due’ and a custom still practised.

Introduction To Bermuda Cruises

Bermuda is around 120 miles north of the Caribbean Sea. It has a mild climate even during the winter months. Cruises to Bermuda are generally available between April and late October. There are certain cruises which keep on making trips until the end of December. However, they are relatively rare.

Your cruise ship could land in any one of the three ports at Bermuda, though it is most likely that you would stop in the port of Hamilton, as it has two shipping berths. It may happen that you visit more than one port on your Bermuda cruise trip.

The other port is known as St. George port. It is a historical port and attracts large numbers of tourists. Then there is the third port, at King’s Wharf. This port has museums, galleries and popular restaurants, which makes it a famous cultural hub. Bermuda cruises often have a large number of tourists who often make return visits to Bermuda. This indicates the island’s popularity.

However, as it is a small island, restrictions are in place concerning the maximum number of cruise liners that can land here. Check out the limit before you book a Bermuda cruise. The bookings can be done online or over the telephone. There are many cruise liners to choose from. Your choice of a cruise liner depends on your budget and the kind of vacation you are looking to take. There are luxury liners for those who want to splurge, and cheaper liners for those on a tighter budget.

Everything you need to know while Sailing Croatia

Are you about to start your first expedition with Sailing Croatia? Or you already hold some experience in sailing? Here we are to guide you through some of the brief points which you might need to keep in mind in your first or forthcoming sailing attempts.

Things that matter while Sailing Croatia!

You may come across a lot of secrets of Croatia while you explore it via sea. Croatia has it all – the range of sailing options, the spectacular and breathtaking scenery, the untouched and unspoiled bays and the myriad island. The most important one is its clean, calm and clear blue waters.

To reach Croatia, it just takes a little over 2 hours from London. Croatia is considered as Europe’s finest destination for sailing. Sailing Croatia is affordable, relatively safe and takes you through a number of diverse destinations having its unique beauty to present.

In case you are still new in sailing expeditions, you may hire a skilled, professional and experienced skipper who can guide you through the trip with minute details about Sailing Croatia.

What you can experience in your sailing trip to Croatia?

You may come across a number of trip organizers providing varied plans from the arrival at Croatia till the departure. Every trip organizers are bound to keep a minimum of a week-long trip to Croatia.

It’s so surprising about what all you can watch in just a week’s time. But, looking at this fast pace world, trip organizers are forced to develop an itinerary that completes in a week’s time.

Croatia comprises nearly 2000 islands, islets, and reefs together with the mainland ports and anchorages which keeps you in a want to visit the place again.

Warm blue seas, beautiful cities, deserted islands, wicked nightlife, and fresh seafood are somethings which you will never like to miss while Sailing Croatia. And relaxing on the spacious deck of a traditional sailing boat, sailing down the Adriatic with swim stops galore, is, without doubt, the best way to experience the Sailing Croatia trip!

This trip is totally for some relaxation, getting in touch with a cool and calm atmosphere of the islands and contacting friendly people joining you during the Sailing Croatia expedition. You may also try swimming in the sun warm waters during the sailing that may give you a different flavor of the trip.

Victoria Tall Ship Festival

Over the years, many tall ships from all over the world have visited Victoria. I believe that this is the first time the Tall Ship Festival has been held in Victoria. On Thursday June 23, 2005 approximately 30 Tall Ships started gathering near the entrances to Esquimalt Harbour and Victoria Harbour. I thought I would get an early start to avoid any anticipated crowds. My target was the Victoria Breakwater protecting the Inner Harbour. My grandaughter and I went about an hour and a half early to find that that thousands of people had the idea long before me. I managed to find a parking spot and worked my way out on to the breakwater.

There was an endless stream of people along the half-mile stretch of breakwater that extends into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the end was covered with Tall Ship fans. Soon the boats started sailing toward the breakwater.

The show continued until around 1:00 PM when the first ship entered the Victoria Inner Harbour. The Pacific Swift, a Victoria based Tall Ship was the first. The two largest ships, the Russian vessel Pallada and the Mexican vessel Cuauhtemoc had to wait until the evening high tides to enter because of their large draft.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour was teeming with interesting activity as Sea Planes tried to maintain their commercial schedules, Harbour Ferries scooted around, the Coho Ferry tried to leave on time, kayakers everywhere, all manner of pleasure craft coming and going – and all the while, more than 30 Tall Ships docking. The Victoria harbour master, who was orchestrating all this traffic must have had rock solid nerves.

I did not attend the first full day of the Festival, but heard it did have some big hick-ups. The large crowds that attended created huge line- ups everywhere. The organizers addressed the issues and Saturday, when Linda and I attended, went a lot better. The lines were long in the morning but shrunk in the afternoon. There was a lot to see and do. The biggest line-ups were to see the Pallada and the Cuauhtemoc.

We were standing in line to see the Cuauhtemoc when someone called out to say that they were looking for 30 people to visit the Zodiac. The Zodiac was the 3rd largest vessel and due to the low tide, it was a bit hidden. We walked down and were the first people to go on the Zodiac. It was a beautiful and built for the people who became wealthy in manufacturing. The Zodiac was designed to epitomize the speed and grace of the historic North American fishing schooners and was modeled on the Blue Nose (made famous on the Canadian dime).

The line for the Cuauhtemoc had shrunk some, so we joined it. It moved along reasonably well, but it did take an hour to get to the 2nd largest vessel in the Festival.

The Cuauhtemoc is a training tall ship for the Mexican Navy. It was built in Bilbao, Spain July 29, 1982.The Cuauhtemoc is known as the “Ambassador and Gentleman of the Seas”. Generations of officers have trained on it and it has sailed approximately 400,000 miles so far. It is huge, 90 meters in length, 12 meters wide, with 23 sails. It can move at 9 knots under sail and 17 knots under power.

The 23 sails are supported by a tremendous amount of rigging. The wire cables all are covered with soft material (made from frayed rope) to prevent the cables from tearing the sails in the wind. The sailors call it saggy wrinkles.

Someone asked me why you needed to board the vessels as you can see most of the ship from the street above. The features throughout the ship are truly amazing as demonstrated by the immaculately finished wood shown below. There are lots of displays, rigging, brass, wood and interesting equipment on the ship.

Village of Postira Croatia

Brac is the largest islands in the central Dalmatian region of Croatia and Postira is specifically located on its northern coast. Postira is an excellent representation of a quaint Dalmatian town bathed with narrow streets, small houses, green meadows and old vineyards. Dominating its skyline is the Baroque Church of St. John the Baptist. These days, the town is also populated by various hotels; bed and breakfasts; and private apartments to accommodate the growing number of tourists who are lured to the village’s charm and tranquil beauty.

Postira is blessed with a long history, which goes all the way back to the 14th century. Even today, you can find structures and remnants that serve as reminders of the real age of the village. When you go to the village port, you cannot miss the row of stone houses that used to be properties of wealthy families in Brac. The Palace Lazanic is among these striking buildings. The house was also the home of Vladimir Nazor, a celebrated Croatian poet.

The village’s serene valleys and lovely bays make a lasting impression on anyone who sets foot on Postira. The people here are known for their friendliness and hospitality; traits that definitely help create a memorable vacation. At the heart of town, establishments like a fish market, butcher shops, post office, restaurants, shops and cafes welcome new and returning visitors. “Pink Panther’, “Barcode” and “Laman” are just some of the bars and restaurants that have made a name for themselves in the town.

Prominent hotels in the area are also equipped with their own bars. If you find a restaurant with your preferred ambiance and price range, don’t hesitate to order some traditional Dalmatian food! After having that much needed relaxation time; engage yourself in outdoor activities available at Postira such as boating, biking, hiking and other popular water sports.

One of the village’s many assets is its proximity to gorgeous beaches and lovely bays perfect for swimming and relaxation. One of the main beaches to explore near town is the pebble beach called Hele. Other beaches you should consider visiting include Zalo, Molo Lozna, Rat, Vrilo, Prja and Zastivanje. If you want to spend time on a sandy beach, just head out a few kilometers from the town proper to discover Lovrecina, one of the most popular beaches on the island. This beach has also become a favorite among returning visitors because of its facilities, which include a beach bar, restaurant and volleyball courts.

La Tomatina Festival

La Tomatina Festival is the distinct food fight event held on the last Wednesday of August of every year. It attracts thousands of Spanish tourists and also other nationalities from all over. The town of Bunol is located near the Spanish region of Valencia. Its streets within the old town vicinity are the main venues for the fun tomato-throwing event. About 40,000 to 50,000 people participate in this amazing fight, making Bunol’s regular small population swell up during the one-week lone festival. If you are concerned about wasting tomatoes at the event, don’t worry. The world’s biggest food fight make use of only slightly over 100 metric tons of over- ripe tomatoes.

To protect the different shops surrounding the food fight venue, owners place plastic covers on their store facade before the tomato fight. Then several trucks carrying loads of tomatoes drive into the center of the town named Plaza del Pueblo. The first event of La Tomatina begins at about 11 am, and the firing of the water canon marks the start of the tomato battle, where every person is responsible for himself. After an hour, the water cannons are fired again to signal the end of the fight.

Participating in the La Tomatina Festival may be the most enjoyable and messiest experience you will ever have in your life. But because the event has the potential to get to rowdy, participants are asked to observe some rules. It is highly recommended that you wear protective goggles and gloves during the food fight. There is a possibility that some revelers will try to rip off your clothing, even though it is prohibited to do so. Glass bottles and hard objects are not allowed during the fight, and you must always squash the tomatoes before throwing them. It is best to wear closed shoes that can be thrown away as wearing flip flops can easily get your feet hurt. If you plan to take photos of the festivities, don’t forget to bring a waterproof or covered camera.

The tomato fight is not the only activity during La Tomatina. Expect a lot of dancing, firework displays, parades and even a cooking competition on the famous Spanish dish called paella. To control the number of people who can participate in the food fight, the local government has implemented a ticketing policy. Make sure to book the ticket well in advance.

Grand Canyon Helicopters

Tour Departures

There are two locations for taking a helicopter tour, and one of them is in Vegas, while the other is in Arizona. Helicopters that depart from Vegas fly to the West Rim and the choppers that depart from Tusayan fly to the South Rim of the Canyon. Just so you know, there are no flights between the two rims. So if you want to take a helicopter tour of the South Rim, but you’re staying in Vegas, then you need to take a plane to the South Rim where you can then begin your tour.

Another thing to know is that the temperatures are colder at the South Rim. That’s because the South Rim sits at an elevation of 6700 feet. The West Rim, on the other hand, has an elevation of only 4700 feet. At the South Rim, daytime temps from December to March hover around 40 to 50 degrees in the day and they drop to 18 to 25 at night. The West Rim has warmer daytime temperatures that reach into the 60s and 70s, but the nights are a little chilly with 40 degree temps.

It’s even possible you’ll see snow on your winter Canyon tour. The snow usually doesn’t last too long in the area, so it isn’t too common for tours to get grounded due to the weather. Snow events usually happen on the South Rim, it’s unusual for it to snow on the West Rim, but it does happen occasionally.

Refunds For Canceled Tours

If a bad storm does cause your helicopter tour to be canceled, your tour operator should refund all of your money. The only time you may run into trouble is if you book your tour through a tour consolidator that is in the business of buying and filling empty seats because they can remove the refund policy from the deal. For that reason, you want to buy your Canyon tour directly from a tour company and avoid middlemen like Expedia, Hotwire, and Priceline.

Also, consider what you will wear on your winter tour. Dressing in layers is the best way to go. Decide on your base layer. A t-shirt or a warm polyester shirt is a good choice. You probably have tops like that already and won’t need to buy anything new. Wear a sweater on top of your shirt and a warm jacket or parka on top of that. Also, be sure to wear sturdy shoes with wool socks, warm pants, gloves, and a scarf.

Dressing for the weather is more important than ever if you book a landing tour. The only place you can take a landing tour is from Vegas to the West Rim, since the helicopters at the South Rim can’t land at the Canyon. When you take a landing tour, you can add on tickets to the Skywalk, enjoy a Champagne picnic, or take a boat ride on the Colorado River. The landing tours fill up fast because they are very popular with Vegas travelers, so be sure to book your tour as early as you can.

Travelling in Spain

Toll roads are virtually empty and most of the motorways, with the exception of large town interchanges like Bilbao or Madrid they are very light with traffic and on the whole drivers here do not seem to be in such a rush.

Something we learnt yesterday from a fellow driver you can easily be caught speeding on toll roads as your entrance and exit times are recorded and if you show excessive speed you can be fined on the spot at the exit barrier.

Talking to a cyclist, helmets are to be worn according to the police although locals never seem to bother; or with lights. However this chap told us he had been fined 250 euros for being drunk in charge of a bike and not wearing a helmet on a major road.

There seems to be zero tolerance for any drink driving situations.

The quality or most Spanish roads we have travelled on is excellent, I cannot vouch for mountain trails, which look frightening as you pass the mountains on the motorways, as they wind precariously up the side of the mountains, but the main roads are fine. Most motorways seem little more than dual carriageways that link most towns in a complete network of easy travel. The exits to neighbouring towns are clearly marked in plenty of time and traffic peels off to the right to be re-directed from roundabouts to smaller destinations, whilst the motorway traffic continues on.

Certainly in the wintertime traffic moves with ease through most towns, drivers are halted every few yards by lights at intersections and pedestrian crossings so although traffic moves fairly slowly it feels quite laid back and lazy, but it keeps moving. There don’t seem to be traffic queues in the towns we visited, certainly not in the wintertime. We also had a pretty easy journey from Bilbao to Costa Calida, with our car piled high with possessions!

It seems some laws change in different regions however here is a link that may be helpful to you: Reg. NCV 01 047305 A CIF NG54504931 Email [email protected], (provided by an expat to help drivers understand various traffic rules in Spain), there may be variances in different regions, but be sure to carry your passport in the car or an official copy and spare lights, spare glasses if worn, first aid kit and accident triangles.

We are still discovering Spain as we have now moved here for the winter; we are enjoying the warm climate and peaceful venues, and will leave the summer heat and crush for others to enjoy!

Tips for Passport Renewal

  • Don’t wait for the expiry date: This is a common doubt and therefore we are addressing it on priority. Most people start work on the renewal of their passport well after the expiry date has gone by. This is wrong. Instead, initiate the renewal process even before you hit the expiry date. Start renewing at least 9 months beforehand because there are many airlines that could refuse to accommodate you if your passport expires within six months.
  • Don’t go to random people: A lot of travellers use the online passport service portals to get their passport renewed. However, you need to ask yourself how many of these are genuine. What’s more is that these random agencies are going to charge you a bomb and still can’t guarantee that they will be able to get the job done. Instead, just opt for the government passport office. You will receive all the guidance that you want.
  • Use recent pictures: Your passport renewal application is most likely to get rejected if you are not using recent pictures. Don’t wait for one rejection to open your eyes. Instead, be smart and keep a bank of recently clicked pictures ready for use.
  • Document submission: These days most of the passport renewal application cases require the users to download an application form from the government website, fill in the details and submit the documents mostly by mail. If you are going to mail the documents, ensure that it is sealed properly. Also, use a traceable method of mailing so that you know when the documents are delivered.