Getting the Best Cruise Deals

Going on a cruise is a dream vacation for many. It can be one of your best holidays ever. Just the idea of being on a cruise is romantic and filled with fun and adventure. From the Caribbean or the Bahamas to Alaska, there are exotic islands and natural wonders to discover on a cruise. It promises to be a unique vacation with lots of surprises.

cruise shipOn the practical side, cruises are very appealing because it’s an all-inclusive deal.   The great value that travelers get from cruise packages is hard to beat. It also requires much less planning. Unlike land-based travel, there are no more hotel or restaurant reservations to make or confirm. Cruise packages include accommodation, meals, activities and entertainment.  All that’s left for you to do after booking your cruise is to get on board and relax.

For the simple reason that a cruise ship is a hotel, restaurant and entertainment complex, taking a cruise vacation is very convenient. A cruise itinerary includes several different locations that you can visit without the stress of transportation. Families with kids or big groups will appreciate not having to worry about shuffling from one city to another or checking in or out of hotels. During the ride in between locations, there are plenty to do on board to keep the fun going for everyone including shows, theater performances, dancing, classes and even sports activities.

Today, cruises are not just for the privileged. With some help and advance planning, you can enjoy an affordable cruise vacation. Instead of booking with a cruise line directly, you can save money by using a travel agent which can give you information about different cruise packages. Choose a travel agent that is experienced, certified and trained in cruises. Booking a group cruise with your agent for 4 or more would give you additional savings since they are able to negotiate the lowest possible rates for groups.

You can also save money when you book in advance. Making arrangements as early as three months to a year before your planned trip allows you to take advantage of early booking discounts as well as better availability of deals. Another opportunity to save on a cruise trip is to go on a repositioning cruise, which is basically a one-way cruise operated by cruise ships whenever they have to relocate from one region to another primarily because of seasonal changes. While you have to book a return airline ticket when you take a repositioning cruise, the cruise itself offers significant savings.

As with other travel bookings, you can get the best value during the off season. The lowest-priced cruises are traditionally available during the first week of December and January, early May and before or after summer breaks. When planning a cruise, do keep these tips in mind. They should give you a good starting point to book a cruise that’s right for your budget and needs.

Maggie Hoyt is a travel writer who shares her vast knowledge of world travel and cruise culture not only on travel blogs, but on personal financial sites, click here for an example, and lifestyle blogs.

Finding a Vacation Home

It’s a great time to buy a vacation home.  The prices have dropped,  interest rates are at an all time low, and it’s a buyers market.  You should probably act fast as things probably wont stay this way for long.  In fact in some resort areas prices are starting to move up.

If you are thinking of buying a vacation home you may have decided on where you would like it to be located.  If not consider what you like doing.  Do you like to be besides the ocean, or is a hidden country location more up your alley?  Do you favor a warm weather resort, or do you like to ski?

Whatever location you decide upon also give consideration as to whether you and your family will be the only ones living there – or would you be renting it out for part of the year.  Having a place that can be considered a rental can increase it’s resale value.  Therefore ask if this is allowed by the HOA before buying.

If you do decide to rent it out be aware that there are costs associated with this – cleaning, management, and maintenance, etc.  Also if appliances break down you will have to pay for the repairs.  Do some research on the viability of renting with some management companies in the vacation location.  They may be able to offer you some good advice regarding pricing, availability etc.

If you are planning to take out a mortgage loan you should be able to get a similar interest rate as for a first home – unless you require the rental income to qualify.  If this is the case expect a higher interest rate and a larger percentage down payment.  If you have equity in your primary residence you may consider a mortgage refinance to help acquire the vacation home.


Planning a Great Road Trip

If you’re looking for the perfect road trip, there are a few things to keep in mind. Usually people will think first about the destination, and this is an essential aspect of any trip, including road trips. After this, or in conjunction with it, is the amount of time they have for the trip versus the distance and driving time involved. With this are other factors such as how many stops will be taken along the way, out of both necessity and travel pleasure. Other elements that come into play with the overall scheduling and experience structure include the reasons itself for the trip. Some people hit the road because the very experience of driving or riding on the open highway or other routes offers relaxation, reflection and a sense of escape. And as long as you have a fresh oil change and the perfect Hankook tires , you’ll be sure and have a safe journey.

The reason why you take the trip in the first place can have a great effect on the rest of agenda. If you’re simply helping a friend drive their car to another city, for some reason, or worse, riding along in a Uhaul helping them move, you’re less likely to plan for a lot of pit stops or sight seeing. Meanwhile, if you’re planning a short trip to the nearby lack or national park, you’ll likely pack some supplies and plan to spend most of your time at your destination. Other trips are centered around what you expect to find along the road itself. For instance, if you’re traveling up through the northern part of Arizona, you will likely want to spend some time at both the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. And if you’re really ambitious, a stop at Meteor Creator will be a great option.

Regardless of where you’re going or why, there are some essential items and trip planning elements that will keep you safe, ensure your pleasant experience and keep you moving. Having your car checked over before setting out is a must, and having a current safety kit on board is recommended. In addition, you’ll want to bring some extra water, and a food supply. The amount of water and food you bring will depend on the extend and location of your trip. In addition, and especially if the trip is for pleasure, you’ll want to explore all of the surrounding attractions and make a list of those you’ll most likely want to stop at and explore. Always make sure to let a friend know where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. These are just a few of the safety and security options that, along with the new Hercules tires you’ve put on, will ensure a great road trip. Just don’t forget to bring the right music.

Broadway and Hollywood in New York

Visiting New York remains one of the most popular vacation agendas for people all across the United States as well as the world. In fact, most of the people from outside of the country who visit the States prefer to visit New York or one of the great cities in California above all other locations. Though of course there are many popular tourist destinations throughout this great country. Meanwhile, for people who visit New York, attending a Broadway musical is generally high on their list of attractions. This is in addition to the standard landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building which are also essential stops while in the city. And of course a stroll through Central Park and an afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art are among the list. And while the economy continues to struggle, money market mutual funds indicate that great family getaways and vacations continue to be an essential aspect of life.

However, for our interests here, it is the Great White Way , which draws our attention, interest and patronage. New York has one of the greatest theatre scenes in the world, and while there are numerous dramatic stagings of great classics and new cutting edge works in the city, it is the blockbuster musicals that continually draw and retain the crowds. And some of the greatest vacation stories involve details from the scenery in Wicked or the great acting of Katherine Zeta Jones in A Little Night Music. This also brings up one of the ongoing popular occurrences of major Hollywood stars taking to the stage. It is a common occasion for film stars who have their roots in theatre to return to the stage, a Broadway stage if possible, and remain true to their first passion, which is the theatre.

However, in increasing numbers, film and television actors with little or no previous stage acting experience are turning their attention to the boards of Broadway. This is contributing to a return of interest in the theatre, as well as providing additional artistic outlets for these actors. David Duchovny is one of the most recent examples of a famous actor who doesn’t have a theatre background heading to New York. This month he made his Off-Broadway debut in a Neil Labute play called Break of Noon. Labute is well known for his dark comedy style, with Fat Pig being one of his more memorable works. This is just one of the latest Broadway trends, and who doesn’t love the idea of catching one of Hollywood’s gems in a great production? That only adds to the quality of story telling after the trip is over. Sites like will show that it’s not always bad to borrow money for one of these trips of the lifetime.

Op Shops in Sydney

In case there ever was any doubt that retro and vintage fashions were not popular all over the world, any time spent away from home will reveal that this is a global phenomenon. One of the sure signs of being in the trendy alternative neighborhoods in any city is the preponderance of old, cool clothes. It’s as true in New York as it is in London or Paris or Rome. The bad news for anyone looking to lively up their look is that in these cities, the high fashionistas are aware of the trends, and this can jack up the prices, even at the most humble thrift shops. Supply and demand are still a rule of thumb, even at St. Vincent de Paul.

The truly good news, however, is that there are cultures of thrift even outside of the four or five big fashion centers of the world. Anyone who’s been visiting Australia recently and done some Sydney shopping can attest that this is a paradise for cheap fashion. Only not entirely cheap perhaps. The fashion sensibility is high in Sydney, and it’s not unusual to fall in love with some new looks every time one sets foot on the town. The scene here is well-established, and the thrift stores are well-combed, but they’re also constantly changing. This means there are wonderful bargain opportunities for anyone frequenting Sydney Australia hotels , looking to make their wardrobe hipper and fresher without spending a whole lot of money.

The local interest in recycled clothing is nothing new, and there are plenty of suggestions and opinions available through web surfing, but these things are usually more exciting on the street and in person. The locals will surely have some ideas of what the best local thrift stores are. Or at the very least, can probably offer directions to the nearest Salvos or Vinnie’s (Salvo’s and Vinnie’s are, by the way, the local names for Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul). All the stores are known collectively as Op Shops (Op being short for Opportunity). There are also other shops that are driven by specific charities, such as MS Australia, and plenty of specialty shops that are privately owned and cater to anyone with good fashion sense and funky clothes to sell or trade.

Buying used clothing is a culture in itself, and there are those who have proudly worn vintage clothes for more than a generation or two. Travel to interesting new cities is always a very tempting occasion for revamping one’s wardrobe. Op Shopping is one way to bring these threads together, by giving old threads a new life.

Why Maps?

Maps seem to be simple enough on the surface They are used to navigate or understand space. People have relied on maps for millennia to identify the route between two places or to comprehend the geographical relationships between things. But maps are about more than that. They can serve a variety of functions and people use them in all sorts of different ways.

A map of us may be a way to plot travel routes, but it can also be used to educate. A good map will show state borders, major bodies of water, large cities, state capitals, and can even include large features like mountain ranges and deserts. That’s a lot of information to help students understand the geography of the country.

Maps can also serve as decor. A beautifully framed antique wall map may become a focal point or an accessory in a well designed den or study. It can also serve as a conversation piece about the era it depicts or the work of the cartographer. Lastly, these types of maps can unlock the imagination of creative children and adults. They can spark stories of adventures, pirates, sea monsters, or evoke legends and myths of time gone by.

Picking Visitors Insurance

When you’re planning a trip overseas you have to buy insurance. You may not want to, but the alternative is to leave yourself open to all sorts of disasters. Taking the time to buy the right policy will ease your mind from worrying about what will happen if you get sick, injured, or encounter some sort of travel headache during your trip. Instead of putting it off, you need to tackle this task as soon as possible in your travel planning. There are lots of different visitors insurance policies available. You want to find the one that is best for you.

The first thing you need to do is create a general profile of your trip. What country or countries you are visiting, what you’ll be doing while you are there and how long you will be staying. This will be key in helping you determine what type of policy is best.

Next you want to make note of any special considerations that will need to be addressed. Do you have existing medical conditions or prescriptions that you need to have covered? If you are traveling with family, are there small children or senior citizens with special circumstances? Think about whether you have expensive belongings such as laptops or business equipment that needs extra insurance.

Now identify the right insurance company. There are a number of experienced and reputable agencies that offer overseas travel insurance. You can contact these directly or look at online sites that offer policy quotes. You can even purchase policies online — just make sure you check on the specific company and carefully read all the policy terms before you buy.

The Ultimate Banff Mountain Top Experience

This is a guest post by guest author Vern Marker.

Located in the heart of the Banff National Park, Lake Louise is a focal point attraction for all the beauty and majesty one can expect to find in Canada. This natural attraction has been calling to visitors for the past 150 years. If maximizing ones vacation dollars without scrimping on the experience is important, be sure to consider taking a trip to this paradise in the Canadian Rockies.

The time of year for a visit no longer need be dependent upon choice of activity. Summer and warmer weather months provide the vacationing visitor with plenty of outdoor events. Mountain biking has become quite popular on the many well groomed paths on the hill sides.

Hiking is another sport which many visitors enjoy participating in. Be sure to bring plenty of socks because the miles and miles of picturesque views will surely induce additional hikes.

For those with a bit more rest and relaxation in mind,consider fishing, and simple sightseeing around the lake. Within a few short hours, one can also partake in the viewing of glaciers, spiraling tunnels, ancient ice fields and much more. Regardless of level of exertion desired, there are choices for everyone making their way to this year round wonderland.

The Banff National Park is host for such a wide diversity of vacation adventures that it might be a challenge choosing which to participate in when vacation time comes around. Though easy to dismiss a Banff
mountain top experience as solely a winter retreat oasis, the facts are nearly 3 million visitors grace the area every summertime.

This means there are ample opportunities for nearly every imaginable summer activity. Enjoy rough water rafting? The number of mountain lakes and waterfalls in the area provide the spectrum of difficulties from simple raft floating to highly intense river rapids. Even some of the more docile river tours include a bit of excitement and adventure that short rapids can provide.

Perhaps something a little drier and more interactive might be suited this summer? If so, consider one of the many horseback riding tours available in the area. Experience what it was like hundreds of years ago when the explorers and indigenous peoples moved about through the mountains and valleys.

Carrying supplies and people, horses and other pack animals are still hard at work providing millions of visitors with a glimpse back at life so long ago.

Though it should go without saying to bring ones camera, do be sure to bring plenty of film or digital storage cards. Chances are they will be needed.

Most vacation destinations are known for one or two main attractions. Wine countries have, well, wine. The seaside is pretty much a one trick pony. But when considering the breadth and depth of things to do in the Banff National Park, the only real choice is how long to stay in order to do as much fun as time will permit.

If looking for immediate vacation excellence, definitely consider spending part of the summer nestled in the lovely village of Lake Louise and participating in all the fun and excitement available.

Perhaps an extended winter vacation is on the horizon? One would be hard pressed to find more visual beauty along with the very uncrowded, yet extremely popular slopes of the mountains in and around Banff.

Winter, summer, any time at all, a vacation in this part of Canada is not only for rest and relaxation, but a primer for a lifetime of amazing memories. One can certainly not go wrong spending time around these parts.

Shopping and Outlet Stores in Las Vegas

For most tourists, finding great shopping opportunities is an essential part of any vacation. And this is as true for people who visit Las Vegas is it is for most other popular destinations. One of the great aspects of your shopping experience in Vegas is the number of outlet stores that exist in addition to the standard fare. You can find great deals on all of your favorite name brands and then wear them that night when you go out to the Penn and Teller show.

Of course, in order to go shopping, you’ll have to pry yourself away from your comfortable spot on the side of the pool or the lucky chair you’re sitting at in front of that slot machine that is just about to erupt with winnings. You also might need to leave the buffet table a bit early to get to the best deals.

But once you’re out there enjoying the great Vegas shopping experience you’ll have to tear yourself away from the Jeans at Levi’s or the swanky handbags at Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet in order to make it back in time to see the Cher show that night. It really doesn’t matter what you’re doing in Vegas. In order to enjoy one great activity or show, you’re simply going to have to tear yourself away from another one of equal satisfaction and enjoyment. But hey, at least you’ll look great doing it.

Great Skiing in Canada

Skiing is an exciting sport and a great source of winter recreation. Countless Americans will head to the slopes each winter and many will even make trips overseas to Europe or Asia to try out the world class skiing available on some of the most famous mountains in the world. Many forget that there is a much closer option for foreign skiing: the Canadian Rockies.

Technically part of the same gigantic mountain range, the Canadian Rockies are different from those in the US. In fact, many people compare the area in Alberta to the European Alps. The snowfall is abundant with many peaks remaining snow capped year round. Most of the best resorts are located within easy distance of major cities, which makes it easy to fly in from the US and hit the slopes in a number of hours. This has led to the recent rise in popularity of canada ski vacations .

Three Canadian provinces are especially renowned for their ski resorts: Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta. There are even a few slopes located within Canadian National Parks. Snowboarding , heli skiing, and other extreme sports are also widely available in Canada, making it a great destination for anyone interested in winter recreation.

NYC Sightseeing

The countless sights of New York City can be overwhelming to those planning their first trip to the city. As much as they will want to see everything, it simply isn’t possible to see more than a handful of attractions during the average visit to the city. It’s important that people carefully choose which landmarks and sites are at the top of their wish list.

The iconic sights of New York are included on the New York Pass , for those who want to avoid the lines and pay a discount price. The Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Empire State Building are some of the most popular attractions.

Other must sees for most people who visit the Big Apple include the Chrysler Building, the site of the World Trade Center, the United Nations, Wall Street and Central Park. It wouldn’t be a trip to New York without a visit to Times Square and the nearly Broadway theater district. For others it’s better to spend time window shopping on Fifth Avenue or visiting one of the city’s historic neighborhoods. There are dozens of museums, art galleries, theaters, and performing arts to keep people entertained as well as clubs, bars, and some of the best restaurants in the world.

The Grand Canyon Offers a Variety of Tours

Imagining a trip to the Grand Canyon is a great way to spend a cold, winters day. Planning a summer vacation can become a family activity, as everyone weighs in on their preferences for viewing this wonder of the world. As often as the Grand Canyon appears in popular culture, it’s usually depicted as the destination of a road trip or a helicopter tour, but those are only two of the options available to visitors.

The Grand Canyon has become big business, which means there are plenty of hotel and tour options available to choose from. Whether visitors arrive by plane, car, train, or RV, they can contact companies like Papillon tours to learn about the various options available for exploring the Canyon once they arrive.

Helicopter and airplane tours are ideal for those who want to literally fly by the Canyon from nearby towns like Flagstaff and Williams or as part of a Vegas vacation. There are also hiking and mule tours that can be sized to fit a single family or a large group. These take visitors down into the Canyon, exploring the natural beauty of the ecosystem. Adventurous travelers may choose a river tour, rafting down the Colorado and looking up at the Canyon. There are even packages available that combine several options and give visitors multiple views of the Canyon.

Why Buy Visitor Medical Insurance?

Sometimes it seems like you can’t go anywhere without being told you need insurance to protect you. Risk is everywhere and it’s up to the insurance companies not to help you avoid risk, but to help you recover once you’ve lost out to the odds. It’s enough to make you want to give up and take your chances. After all, you can’t afford to buy every insurance you’re told you need. The premiums seem ridiculous given the actual odds of something bad happening.

It is up to you to decide, but there are reasons to consider investing in insurance, especially in visitor medical insurance which is designed to pay for medical treatment when you’re in a foreign country.

Visitor insurance may seem far-fetched. No one plans to get sick or injured when on vacation, studying abroad, or attending an international work conference. You have to weigh the odds of you being one of those who will need medical care against the costs of the policy. Can you afford the out of pocket costs to get a broken bone set or hospital time if you are more seriously injured?

Pleasure trips have risks associated with recreational sports and other activities. You could just as easily break your neck skiing in Switzerland as in Colorado. Longer stays increase your chances of an accident or illness, so don’t think being a student or worker means you have no risk. Medical insurance may sound like a luxury at first, but it really should be a no brainer.

Be Safe at Theme Parks

Although they are supposed to be all about fun, Theme park accidents do happen — and probably more frequently than you expect. Luckily most accidents are of the minor variety, skinned knees, bumped heads, and minor scratches and bruises. Maybe someone has mild food poisoning or a sunburn. You probably don’t even think of those as accidents, but they are.

While it’s expected that kids may get careless or out of hand and end up with minor injuries as outlined above. It’s the fear of real accidents that drive most parents to learn everything they can about theme park safety. The headline grabbing accident that maims or even kills someone on a park ride or even in the parking lot. Although there really isn’t anything you can do to avoid disasters due to faulty rides or true acts of god, there are some common sense steps that you can teach your children to follow.

The first is to abide by each and every safety guideline and instruction provided for every ride or attraction. They may seem silly, but height restrictions, safety bars, and even “keep out” signs are there to minimize the risk of an injury to a park guest. It’s also important to know your own limitations and medication conditions. Wearing sunblock , keeping hydrated and resting often will go a long way towards preventing health problems. Likewise if asthma, heart problems or other conditions could be aggravated by a ride, guests should stay off that one. If there are any doubts, ask the ride attendant. Teaching your kids these few behaviors will help them have a safe theme park experience.

Changing The Oil In a Ford Taurus

Changing the oil in a Ford Taurus, or any other vehicle, is one of the most important maintenance checks that you can do. If frequent oil changes and level checks are not done, lack of oil and buildup could cause damage to the engine resulting in some pretty serious auto repair .
Before you begin working on your vehicle it’s a good idea to get a Ford Taurus repair manual . This will help you understand your specific vehicle better. It is also important that you have all of the right tools before you begin: the right oil, an oil pan, a set of wrenches, and an air filter.
After your vehicle has cooled down for the day, you can begin by placing the oil pan under the car where the oil will come out. With the oil pan in the right place you can remove the old oil. It is very important that you remember to put the oil cap back in place when you are done removing the oil, or you will end with a very big mess and a lot of wasted oil. After that is done you can refill the oil, paying very close attention to the level. This is also a good time to check the air filter and see if that needs to be replaced as well.
If you perform frequent checks and take care of your vehicle, it will take care of you for years to come.

Antique Car Museum and Other Attractions in Fort Lauderdale

While there is nothing wrong with or reason to discourage a trip to Fort Lauderdale that is based on beach fun, tanning and great night club plans, there is actually a great deal more to the city. The tourism industry is slowly recognizing this and many of the guests a Fort Lauderdale hotel are reorienting their agendas. Okay, that’s not exactly true. Most of the people who visit this beautiful city plan on spending as much time in on the beach and in the water as possible. However, what’s also true is the number of people who visit this city every year to enjoy some of its dynamic cultural attractions.

Some of the most popular places to visit include the Stranahan House , which is not only a museum but is also the oldest building in the city. The house offers guests the opportunity to experience the past as it actually was an many people report an intimate connection with Frank and Ivy Stranahan, the original owners, after visiting. The Antique Car Museum is another favorite for tourists and it is the perfect place to bring auto enthusiasts as well as history buffs. The museum is dedicated to honoring and preserving the heritage of Packard autos and has an enormous amount of information as well as a great collection.

Map Collecting

Do you have a box full of maps from road trips, vacations, or maybe some that you inherited from a parent or grandparent and just can’t bear to throw out? Do you feel compelled to pick up free maps wherever you see them or to buy maps at yard sales or swap meets to places you’ve never been and never plan to visit? Whether you’re drawn to the aesthetic beauty of maps of the world , the oddities of place depicted in a vintage road map, or the political, cultural, and demographic changes represented by historical maps, you may be a budding map collector.

It’s believed that many collectors begin by purchasing an antique map as a work of art and then progress to collecting. There’s something to be said for turning an attraction to maps into a full-fledged hobby , exploring the history of cartography and the different types of maps out there. Maybe you just need to find an alaska map to complete your 50 state collection or maybe you’re searching for a rare John Speed English County map. Collectors focus on what appeals to them. Some collect by historical period or geographic area while others amass collections of one cartographer or maps with mistakes. Still others collect by type, with celestial, nautical, and early geological maps being popular areas. Look for map societies or collector organizations in your area or seek out books on collecting for tips on finding, identifying, displaying, and preserving maps for your own collection.

What is your favorite map?

POP Montreal Brings Together Music, Art, and More

A grass roots festival, POP Montreal will celebrate 9 years from September 29th – October 3rd. Promising to showcase innovative and emerging artists, POP Montreal International Music Festival hosts over 80 events bringing together over 400 artists in support of indie communities. Expect hotels in Montreal to fill up as artists and fans gather at the more than 50 venues sprinkled throughout the city.

In addition to musical performances from regional, national, and international stars, the Festival offers Film Pop, Puces Pop, Art Pop, Kids Pop, and Symposium. Over 20 underground and independent films will be screened in Film Pop. Puces Pop is a 2-day curated fair of over 100 independent cultural entrepreneurs including fashion designers, zine makers, record labels, and more. ArtPop offers a dozen gallery exhibitions, a silent art auction, and interdisciplinary performances. Kids Pop is new in 2010 and offers a cross-generational approach to sharing artistic practices. Lastly, Symposium is a series of workshops and conferences reflecting on music, art and culture.

POP Montreal was founded in 2001 by Daniel Seligman, Noelle Sorbana, and Peter Rowan. It has featured musical performances by stars such as Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and TTC as well as local favorites The Unicorns, We are Wolves, and The Dears. Film Pop is celebrating its 6th year with silent films screened with a live score, documentaries, and many local and international films.

Symbolic Significance of Flowers in Washington

It is common point of knowledge that certain times of the year are more popular with florists, jewelry stores and restaurants and it’s also true that most of these rushes relate to certain holidays and romantic themes. However, a holiday or special occasion does not have to be of the romantic nature to deserve a flower arrangement in Washington DC and the florists there are more than aware of this. In fact, while the same holidays that are celebrated and popular in other cities are also common flower delivery Washington DC occasions, there are actually many other events that are just as or even more popular.

Washington is, after all, the nation’s capital, and a celebration there often receives as much posh and panache as is possible. This is due not only to the literal aspects of the celebration but also the enormous symbolic importance of most the events that take place there. And as much as they are beautiful in appearance and aroma, flowers also carry a strong symbolic importance and are an essential aspect of most celebrations. So, if you happen to be in DC and are near any of the great events, look around and see how many beautiful flower arrangements adorn the occasion. In fact, wherever you are, it can be fun to stop and smell the flowers once in a while.

Things to do in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an interesting place and has a long and different history. Having been occupied by the British for as long as they were, made a big difference in the culture of this one city. These huge changes, have affected some of the things that are considered the biggest and best tourist attractions in Hong Kong. There are stunning experiences like The Peak, which is one of the highest mountains in the city. From the top of this mountain, you can see the whole city, including all the top Hong Kong hotels, like those found at There is also the Peak Tower on top of that which will get you even higher into the sky and let you see everything a little clearer.

If being outside like that doesn’t interest you, there is no problem, because this city has a little bit of something for everyone. With British business sensibilities, and the class of Chinese culture, there are a number of people who have decided to open up their normally extensive classes to tourists. This means that you can receive a crash course in a number of things that are usually thought of as being Chinese, such as Tai Chi or Feng Shui . If you don’t have in interest in those, in the same area there are also things like an antiques appreciation class you can get involved in if you want to know a little more about Chinese antiques.

National Museum of the Phillipines in Manila

If you’ve just arrived in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, and want to orient yourself to the cultural and natural offerings of this country, then a first day trip to the National Museum of the Philippines may be an excellent way to start.

Established nearly 110 years ago, in 1901, the museum’s own history parallels the course of the turbulent 20th Century — beginning as the Insular Museum of Ethnology, Natural History and Commerce, and renamed the Philippine Museum in 1904. At various times, the museum was renamed and, at times, abolished altogether, especially during the Japanese occupation during World War II. In 1945, though, after the liberation of the Philippines, the museum was re-established.

Today, the museum’s main purpose is to aid in the creation of cultural consciousness, instilling pride among the Filipino citizenry with exhibits and events that promote culture, education, and the sciences. It’s divided into two buildings — the Old Congress Building (containing arts and natural sciences), and the former Finance Building (housing the sections devoted to anthropology and archaeology). In the section known as the National Museum of the Filipino People, you’ll discover exhibits focusing on the history and culture of the Philippines.

In order to get to the museum, a cab is recommended from the Manila hotels to Valenciana Circle (aka Agrifina Circle) in Rizal Park. It’s an excellent way to achieve an in-depth understanding of the nation. Be sure, though, to arrive at least before 3:30 in the afternoon. The museum closes at about 4 p.m., and to truly appreciate all the museum has to offer, you’ll certainly want to spend more than half an hour.

The Tower of David In Jerusalem

While in Jerusalem you will more than likely be visiting the Tower of David. This adventure could take you some time. You may want to head over in the later afternoon because as the night settles in on this impressive historical landmark, special activities light up.

Standing at the entrance of the old city is this historical museum that gives incredible historical information as well as a 360 degree view of the city of Jerusalem. The museum itself is inside the guardrooms of the medieval citadel.

People come into the local inns from all over the world to explore this amazing place. They get a chance to see the history of Jerusalem and learn things that they may not have read about. They can plug into the audio tour as they move through the different exhibits and learn more about what they are seeing.

The Tower of David is the center of 4000 years of Jerusalem history as well as more modern life. There are often special activities going on at different times of the year. At night the citadel is light up with brilliant lights as music plays making it a wonderfully romantic experience. An incredible journey not to be missed.

Perper in Montenegro

One might very well get the opportunity to hear Perper play in many countries in Europe, but there’s something very exciting about hearing a band play in the country they call home. Montenegro is a perfect place for this perfectly eclectic band, and the geography here is as varied as their music. It’s probably a pretty safe bet to call it old fashioned rock and roll, because the screams and the guitars are definitely in tune with those rhythms, but there are enough elements to make it fall uncomfortably in the category of rock.

Drawing heavily on jazz traditions, as well as the traditional musical traditions of the Balkans, a concert will move in many directions at once. This is something that’s very characteristic of any art form in Montenegro in general, where its unusual history has made it simultaneously a community isolated by its own rough terrain, but also unusually tuned in to the cultural offerings from the world at large. Together, the boys who have pretty much grown up together, and meeting again at universities in Novi Sad and Belgrade , have crafted something very exciting. They have played thousands of concerts since they started working together in the early 90s, and their popularity suggests this will go on for a long time to come.

It is a wonderful thing, then, to have the chance to stay at a hotel in Montenegro , and find out that it’s also perfect timing for a Perver concert. It is loud, and it is fast, but it’s also capable of moving into moments that are like a kind of rock lullaby. The musicians are all very skilled at moving from mood to mood, and making sure to keep the crowd very energized through all of it. World music is always exciting, and this is some of the most beloved of the local sounds.

Miami Beach’s Renowned Art Basel Show

Art Basel Miami Beach is an annual contemporary art exhibition, which will take place this year on December 2nd through the 5th, 2010. Art Basel is the most important art show in the United States and is the sister event to the most prestigious Art Basel in Switzerland. Recently, the Miami Beach Art Basel shows has eclipsed its sister in both size and popularity, mainly because it has combined its international selection of top-notch galleries with special exhibitions that crossover with exciting programs featuring films, music, design and architecture. The event takes place in the beautiful Art Deco District and it’s within walking distance of the Miami Beach hotels .

Ever since 2002, Art Basel Miami Beach has been held in more than 250 art galleries featuring exclusive selections of artworks by over 2,000 renowned, cutting-edge and new artists from Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa and Asia. Plus, many of the galleries will feature public art projects, performance art and video art allowing art lovers to discover contemporary developments in new art, which is vital for any art community for its continuance and survival. There will be special programs for art collectors, curators and first-time buyers that will help and guarantee to make this event a very special encounter.

The public exhibits are held along the beach and in the various parks of South Beach. Private events are held at the Miami Beach Convention Center along with adjoining fairs and associated events. Most art studios in the area will host public events in relation to Art Basel that will showcase local Miami artists and their work; many local galleries have started special events before and after the official Art Basel dates taking full advantage of the increase in patrons and media. The Miami Art Museum and the Downtown area with associations of the Bicentennial Park and Bayfront Park, as well as the Gusman Theater will also participate, making Art Basel Miami Beach only increase in size and in importance with not only with the local art community, but with the international art community as well.

When Businesses Should Find a Law Firm

Regardless of the city in which you live and or practice business, having access to or better yet a positive and stable relationship with a lawyer or law office is extremely important and can make the difference between your company or organization’s success or failure. From Chicago to New York to the desert and Phoenix, lawyer based guidance is essential. This is frequently an overlooked aspect of many businesses, though it is also one of the most fundamentally important, especially when establishing your initial paperwork, including articles of incorporation. Many non-profit organizations will make it a top priority to have a lawyer on the board of directors and this is a very wise decision.

Many business theorists claim that the two most important professionals that are part of any company’s early development are a lawyer and an accountant. These are excellent words of advice and for the business owner or partners who frequently have their minds on quality assurance and customer satisfaction , would do themselves one of the biggest favors possible by ensuring they have both of these positions filled.

The reasons businesses profit from having a lawyer don’t end with the establishment of their paperwork and legal structure. In addition there are numerous situations and occurrences that take place through the life of the business and throughout the fiscal year that demand legal attention from a professional. And waiting to have a solid relationship with a law firm until you are in a legal bind or are being sued is never a smart decision and guarantees you are likely to make the wrong decision in finding the right lawyer for you. This is because you are responding to a crisis and don’t have the time luxury of researching and interviewing multiple firms. In addition, the lawyer you hire will not have the benefit of working knowledge and a previous working relationship with your company. It is best to find your lawyer before you open your doors.

Ukrainian Institute in Central Park

A trip to New York City’s Central Park will take tourists into worlds they didn’t know existed, such as the Ukrainian Institute of America, located at 2 East 79th Street. The Institute exists to promote a greater understanding and appreciation in the United States of both Ukraine’s contemporary and traditional arts, music, literature, history and culture. It also has a goal of developing a stronger sense of community and identity among those people of Ukrainian descent through concerts and lectures and exhibits. For this reason, stopping by the Ukrainian Institute will provide visitors with a number of interesting opportunities to see fascinating Ukrainian exhibits and performances.

Events at the Institute don’t appear to be set too far in advance, at least not on their website, so it’s a good idea to check on what programs are offered, especially if you’re staying near Central Park. Most recently, the Institute offered music by pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who performed Chopin’s Twenty Four Etudes on April 24th. The cost of such an event is about thirty dollars; it’s five dollars cheaper if you’re an UIA member or a senior. If you’re a student, it’s ten dollars cheaper. The Ukraine in Photography, an ongoing exhibit by Yevgen Kovtonyuk, may be seen through May 16th. The gallery will be open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to six in the evening.

Of even greater interest to fans of architecture is the historic mansion which houses the Ukrainian Institute. This mansion falls in the middle of Central Park’s Museum Mile, that also includes the Guggenheim Museum and the Frick Collection. This amazing house is designed in a French Renaissance style, and was built in 1898 when a railroad investor and banker, Isaac Fletcher, commissioned famed architect C.P.H. Gilbert to construct a home using as a template the neo-Loire Valley chateau of William Vanderbilt. The original owner so liked the home that he hired an artist to paint it. The painting, by Jean Francois Raffaelli, was then given to the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1917.

Chimes of Singapore

In Singapore, one of the more interesting historic buildings to visit is Chijmes . Originally, the building complex was a convent and convent quarters known as the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (or CHIJ) and the Caldwell House. The Caldwell House was built in the central business district of Singapore in the downtown core in about 1840, approximately 170 years ago. The chapel was built much more recently, in 1904, just 106 years past. Today, the chapel is a hall used for various purposes, known as Chijmes Hall, and Caldwell House is now an art gallery; both structures have been declared national monuments, which house shops, restaurants, and entertainment centers. The hall is used often for theater, music, and, on occasion, weddings.

Those travelers with an interest in history will definitely want to make a stop at Chijmes after they’ve checked into their Singapore hotels . Once at the site, they’ll be able to appreciate the architecture and story of the building, which began when four nuns from France arrived in Singapore to establish a convent. They arrived in February of 1854 and lived in what is now the Caldwell House. The architecture of the Caldwell House was created by George Drumgoole Coleman in a Neoclassical style. The nuns began taking in students ten days after moving in, creating not simply a convent, but a school and orphanage, as well as a refuge center for women. The life of the convent was set down in diaries, kept in seven volumes by convent scribes. The diaries cover the history of the convent, from 1851 through 1971, handwritten in French. The diaries, known as Annales de Singapour, provide a detailed hundred years plus look at life in a convent.

When the Saint Nicholas Girls’ School began in 1933, it first held classes in bungalows that were a part of the Hotel Van Wijk, but they later moved to the convent in 1949. The school was moved again in 1985 to Ang Mo Kio. And the chapel itself quit functioning as a chapel on November 3, 1983, with the last religious service and the deconsecration of the church. Much later, taking five and a half years of restoration and construction, Chijmes is now as you may see it today: a plaza offering retail shops and restaurants, a kind of secular peaceful spot in the hub of Singapore.

VA Chesapeake Bay

Virginia is famous for its different cuisines. The location of the state is perfect for a diverse menu of foods. With Virginia being near water it enables the selection of seafood to be better than many other states. Also, with Virginia being a southern state the style of slow cooked, soul food, and comfort foods are incorporated many times in different dishes. Virginia has a rich wine history as well with many different wineries that have been in existence for many years and creating award winning wines. Also, the agriculture is rich as well with many different fresh fruits and vegetables grown and harvested state wide.
The Eastern Shore and Chesapeake Bay is where the state’s best seafood is caught at. Some of the biggest and most delicious crabs are caught there daily. Many of these delicious crabs are then used as the main ingredient in a variety of different dishes. One of the most popular dishes is crab cakes the recipe is not too complicated. The area is also famous for its fresh oysters and everyday thousands of oysters are devoured at the various restaurants.
Smithfield Virginia is famous for its meats. “The ham capital of the world” is the title given to it because of the quality of the meat that comes from the area and the reputation it has earned through the country and the world. The cooking process is slow and detailed the end result is delicious and well worth the effort.
One thing that makes delicious meals complete is wine. Fortunately, Virginia has a great wine country as well. Thousands of people come to Virginia year round and take tours of different ciderys and wineries. Some of these wineries offer rooms for visitors to stay in while others do not. However, Virginia has many top notch, fully furnished, and affordable hotels to choose from. If you are interested in visiting VA ,and tasting some great foods and wines click here to find a room and get your Virginia vacation going.

The Desert Opera Theatre in Palmdale

Palmdale, California has been frequently overshadowed by the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, when it is being considered in the larger context. However, the city is one of the unique areas of this larger region and more people are giving it specific and greater interest in its own right. There are interesting and dynamic cultural attractions found in Palmdale and that are associated with it. And there are some geographic aspects, such as the Palmdale Lake, that are beautiful and provide excellent sources of outdoor recreation opportunities. New residents are being drawn there in increasing numbers and tourists are choosing to visit it on a regular and growing basis. The luxurious and charming hotels are full of guests who eager to explore the beauty and sights of Palmdale.

The cultural scene of Palmdale and the surrounding area is a vibrant and thriving mix of performance genres. There are numerous entertainment options and live performance venues. The Desert Opera Theatre is one of the local institutions that provides quality entertainment and is also one of the primary cultural establishments throughout the Antelope Valley. It has been operating for over three decades and continues to bring classic opera productions and great some of the more recent and diverse hits to the community.

The company performs at the Palmdale Playhouse, as one of the great entertainment and cultural options provided by this quality establishment. The next production scheduled to be performed is the widely successful and popular Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schonberg. The musical is based on the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo and has been moving as well as dazzling audiences since it was first performed as a staged production in Paris in 1980. The show was originally produced as a concept album, and was then put on Stage in a Paris Arena. It was popular from the beginning and a production was soon staged in London’s West End. When the show made its move to New York it became an popular and critical success and won eight Tony Awards after having been nominated for twelve. The production at Desert Opera Theatre is scheduled to open June 16 and will run through the 27.

Knowing When it is Time for New Tires

There comes a time when you just know it is time for new tires . Whether it is that you can see the evidence with your own eye, as the tires may be cracked or in some cases the threads may be visible. Or whether it is that your tires are not holding air, or that your car is just not handling the way it used to. Great tires, such as bf goodrich tires , will eventually wear out, and replacing them at that time is necessary for optimum handling and fuel efficiency, as well as necessary for keeping you, your car and your loved ones safe.

If you are not certain as to the condition of your tires , if you can not tell if they do indeed need to be replaced, a local tire dealership will often times do it for free, even if you are not intending to do business with them. And, in many cases, they will even help you figure out the best tire for your car, and help you find the information that you will need to compare your options. You can take this information home with you, and begin your own comparison by going online and checking out the various sites which offer standard tire information as well as the sites the list consumer reports and reviews.

It is amazing, the things you can find out about online. One of the good things however, about taking your business to the dealer, is that while they mount your new kumho tires for you, they will also in many cases, be there throughout the upkeep and maintenance your tires. Their goal is to not only sell tires, but most of them really do want people to be safe out on the road. So knowing when it is time to buy new tires, is just as important as where you go to purchase those new tires.