Stunning Shorelines: The Best of South African Beaches

 

South Africa is a beautiful and vibrant country, and with such a vast history – both devastating and exciting – there’s so much for tourists to experience here. With millions of people visiting South Africa every year, there’s no doubt that it’s stunning countryside, museums, restaurants and bars offer a wealth of entertainment, and one of the highlight attractions will always be its glorious beaches. From dolphins and whales to beach sports and finishing excursions, South Africa’s beaches are the hub of some of the most cultured and social activity in the country, and if you’re thinking about visiting this magnificent country this year, you’re going to need to know which ones to visit!

Eastern Cape – Port St Johns, The Wild Coast

Both iconic and beautiful, Port St Johns can be found on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, and it one of the most visited shorelines in the country. Although it’s fairly undeveloped, there’s no underestimating the natural beauty of this beach, with hubs of tropical beauty everywhere you look. Furthermore, the water is some of the warmest of the coastline, meaning it’s popular with swimmers and surfers alike.

Port Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/

Port Elizabeth

Another of the Eastern Cape’s tourist hotspots, Port Elizabeth is a little more commercial than Port St Johns, mainly because it’s port and marina are still active trading destinations. Protected by the gentle curves of Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth’s shoreline is peaceful and calm, juxtaposed to the hustle and bustle of the port in many ways. With safe surfing and swimming, as well as offering a number of bars overlooking the sea, Port Elizabeth is a must-visit beach destination, especially if you’re holidaying with the family.

East London

A far cry from the east part of England’s capital, South Africa’s East London is a laid back but thriving community, offering a beach culture like no other. With golden sand, historic rocks and spectacular scenery, this is a beach for cameras and long walks, and you might even pump into a campfire or two!

Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Cape Vidal image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlauret/

KwaZulu-Natal – Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Not only one of the finest beaches in the whole of South Africa, but one of the finest beaches in the World! Stunning snow-white stand lines the shores as marine life thrives from the ocean’s minerals, and with humpback whales as well as dolphins patrol the waters, this is a natural attraction that shouldn’t be missed.

Umhlanga Rocks

Located just north of the city of Durban, Umhlanga’s beaches are most lively during the school holidays in South Africa. People travel from all over the country to visit the exciting and diverse sands here, and there are plenty of activities to take advantage of, including surfing competitions and mini festivals. Make the most out of your holiday in South Africa this year by booking your airfares at http://www.cheapflights.co.za – there are so many great deals to take advantage of!

South Beach, Durban

This is one the highlights of Durban’s famous ‘Golden Mile’, and it’s a hotspot for swimming and surfing. From mini markets selling handmade goods, to live music and beach sports, this is the place to bring the family, and there are loads of restaurants overlooking the beach too, just in case you get hungry!

Umhlanga Lighthouse

 

Don’t Let Language Barrier Stop You from Enjoying Your Trip

 

kalman imre, budapest
Statue of Kalman in Budapest – English and German description provided on tab

Traveling to another country is something that is probably ever-present in people’s bucket lists. After all, there is nothing more surreal than exploring a place that’s foreign to you and immersing yourself in its culture and traditions. Everything does seem dreamlike, that is, until language barrier decides to step in and spoil the fun.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem for you if you come from an interracial family and are well versed with a language other than English or your mother tongue. Nevertheless, not all of us are as fortunate. At the same time, not everyone was able to learn some Spanish, a spattering of French, and some other foreign language back in high school. So will you allow this problem to stop you from enjoying your trip? Certainly not! What should you do, then?

Whether your trip is for business or pleasure, it pays to learn the language spoken at the place where you’re going. You don’t have to be an expert linguist; learning just a couple of important words would be enough. You would be surprised how much better your traveling experience would be if you know how to speak even just a few words from the local language. It can actually enhance your experience in ways you never deemed possible.

Some say, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks”, and that may be true in this case. You can’t expect to master the language, say French, in a matter of days. Hence, a good start would be learning how to speak a few greetings, numbers, directions, simple questions, and phrases such as “How are you doing,” “What’s your name,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “How much is that,” “Where is (so and so place),” and “Nice to meet you,” among others. You would find these simple phrases very handy when you take a cab, eat in a restaurant, or go shopping.

somewhere in Rome
Roaming in Rome, I ended up at Largo Argentina at dusk

Once you’ve got that right down pat, you could progress to a more (somewhat) complex level that would help you “survive” in that place vocabulary-wise. Of course, if you have plenty of time to prepare for the trip, then you can go ahead and have an in-depth study of the language by attending a class or hiring a private tutor.

Learning the language spoken at a certain country makes it easier for you to deal and interact with locals. Inasmuch as English is considered a universal language, you should never assume that everyone in that place speaks English. Some tourists complain that locals don’t treat them all too well, but maybe the language barrier has a lot to do with it. Therefore, if you want a slightly better treatment from locals, you had better learn even just a bit of their language. Believe me; your efforts won’t go unappreciated.

You can actually learn the basics of a language from the comfort of your own home. The Internet offers many different sources to get you started. Some websites doesn’t only teach words and phrases but these also let you listen to audio recordings so you’ll know the proper pronunciation of the words. This is a good way to pick up the basics of a foreign language.

Try to go to the mall and look for a bookstore or any specialty store that sells books, CDs, DVDs, videos, tapes, and even software designed to teach a new language. Some even offer comprehensive combination packages that would make the experience worth your while.

It may seem bothersome, but learning a foreign language offers countless benefits. What’s more, it can broaden your horizons, and perhaps, open up a growing list of opportunities for the future. So topple down that language barrier, learn a new language, and expose yourself to a world of self-improvement and self-fulfillment.

pantheon, rome
Ended up at the Pantheon

Rooms on a Budget Through Hotel Discount Sites

 

Shopping is always fun when you are getting things at a bargain.  The same is true when shopping for hotel accommodations for your vacation.  There are budget rooms and suites available in many hotel discount sites online.  All you need to do is to check these websites at some point and find wonderful deals for your next vacation.  But first, you have to choose your discount sites carefully.  There are a lot of scams online and you do not want to be the next willing prey.  Take a look at the following factors when you evaluate the deal website:

bologna, italy
wandering in bologna

Reliability.  How good a deal really is can only be proven when you avail of it.  Most of the people who are conned into making online purchases find out too late that their money is gone and the product they got is no good.  You want to make sure that the travel website that you are getting your hotel deals from will truly deliver.  Check out its reputation and read through the customer testimonials on the website itself or in other review websites as well.

Timing.  You have to be quick to take advantage of these hotel deals.  Some of them are offered within a short promotional period only.  This is why it is best if you are subscribed to receive notifications for certain deals in your chosen destinations.  It is also a good idea to have a tentative travel date and some other travel preferences in mind.  This will allow you to make a quick decision when the right travel deal comes along.  Have a list of your “requirements” in a hotel room:  number of beds, available amenities, access to business facilities, guided tour availability, and airport transfers among others.

Security.  Make sure that your personal and financial details are safe at all times.  You want an assurance that your data will not be exposed to other entities without your consent.  Even if it’s just for regular promotional emails, you do not want the travel website to be giving out your email address to their partner establishments.  Make sure too that you get your proof of payment every time you transact in any travel website to purchase your hotel deals.

hotel novotel fiera
Novotel Bologna Fiera

Efficient Styling on the Go with Convenient hair-dryers for Travelling

People who often travel as part of their job or those who simply love to travel a lot can still look their best even while on the move. A small and lightweight pack of their vanity essentials will ensure that beauty routines aren’t neglected during their trips. One such handy essential is a hair dryer that can help give your hair a salon finish look. Those who travel for business meetings can easily lose their crisp and professional look by sporting a damp and clingy hairstyle. Vacation goers may have more time to dry and style their hair as they please but this task can be painstaking without a hair dryer around. Here are some suggested hair dryer models that are convenient for travelling.

1.    Sedu Revolution Pro Ionic Dual Voltage Travel Dryer. This handy dryer weighs only 1lb but it can dry your hair faster than other travel sized dryers. It is also a versatile tool that offers multiple speed and heat options, dual voltage, and cool shot options. Travelers can also bring along the detachable concentrator nozzle for easier styling. There is no problem with fitting them together in the suitcase as this Sedu Travel Dryer model has a foldable handle and a clean, compact and travel ready design.

2.    T3 Featherweight Journey Hair Dryer. This is a favored model for those who prefer the conveniences of a standard sized dryer in a smaller version. It features 2 speed/heat buttons, foldable handle, dual voltage capacity and accessories to boot. These include a concentrator attachment, Velcro cord wrap and travel bag that makes packing easier.

3.    Conair Power of Pink MiniPRO Tourmaline Ceramic Styler. More than just a compact hair dryer, this tool comes with attachments that allow users to style their hair while on the go. It has a 2 speed/heat setting, dual voltage, removable concentrator and diffuser, and a storage pouch. This dryer comes in a sleek and feminine look with its metallic pink body and white cord. Aside from being a stylish travel tool, the Power of Pink MiniPRO also supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through the $1.00 donation from Conair for every purchase of this model.

A travel hair dryer may be a necessity for some but not for all. However, one cannot deny that these tools are handy for travel. There are plenty of compact hair dryers that can fit anybody’s travel needs. So far, these three are some of the popular options in different price ranges. Travelers simply have to decide on how much they want to invest in their travel hair dryer while considering their hair styling needs during travels. With plenty of good options around, they will definitely find their match easily.

tousled haird, wind-blown hair
image via http://weheartit.com, hair-dryer

Famous and Historical London Casinos

 

The city of London offers many casinos for tourists to visit while in the city. Not surprisingly, some of these casinos have historical roots given the age of the city. However, one can also find newer casino venues that have become rather famous given what they can offer. Knowing what casinos are available prior to your departure can help you best manage your time while visiting London.

Warwick Street, Mayfair

The Palm Beach Casino is located in central London in the Mayfair neighbourhood which is home to other casinos. Like most casinos in London, membership must be obtained if you plan on making a bet over £1,500. Otherwise, visitors can easily enter the casino without being charged. The specific dress code of any casino in London is key as it varies considerably. Despite the setting and décor of the Palm Beach Casino, visitors can be admitted with casual dress so long as it is neat looking. While the Palm Beach is not a large casino, one will notice that the gaming tables are spread out which makes it much easier to navigate through the establishment.

lighted

Casino games found here include popular favourites that many play at online casinos including roulette, poker, blackjack and slots. Rooms can be found surrounding the main casino floor which are for those who wish to have more of a private game. The roulette tables found in the Palm Beach Casino number ten. They also have some tables with rather low minimum bets which will appeal to casual gamblers. Blackjack is found at three tables in the casino. Within the high roller area expect to find extremely high buy-in amounts for this game. The variation of poker that is most people here is Texas Hold ‘Em. However, casual poker players be warned, often there many only be one table open and it could have a rather high table minimum.

london
Berkeley square at the Mayfair neighborhood

 

Four Safety Travel Tips to Keep in Mind

travel
image via http://www.diversetraveller.com

People travel for different reasons, for many though, travelling is their form of escape from boredom and the torture of everyday routine. There are people who have made travelling their way of life, but for most of us, we need travel to add dimension, excitement and adventure to our boring lives. When you travel and discover new sights or new places, you also discover new cultures and meet new people. You discover more about yourself and develop your character in ways you never thought it would. Yes travelling brings with it that heady, thrilling and addictive feeling, but when travelling you need to keep your wits around you.

A lot of things can happen while you’re miles away from home. It is very important that you are well prepared – mentally, emotionally and physically. Secure your travel fund and ensure that you have an emergency stash or plan B, C and D in case you run short of cash. Consider selling your unused stuff and gadget on a garage sale to add to your fund. Consider the length of your travel and your destination so that you can pack appropriate clothing or footwear. Be sure to bring enough clothing but leave some room for souvenirs too. Once you’ve reached your destination, never be neglectful. Here are some safety travel tips to keep in mind.

Blend in
Avoid being too flashy and attract unwanted attention from a city you hardly know. Travelling to a new place is not the time to display your Rolex and jewelries. Keep it low and prevent any criminalities from coming to you by blending in and keeping the ostentatious display off for now.

Eyes on Your Bags
Leaving your stuff alone while dining out in a restaurant or in a terminal is a big no-no for tourists and travelers. Keep your bags on your lap or sling the strap around your leg. If you need some shut-eye while waiting for your flight, use those snap on straps to keep your bags close to your body so that nobody will have easy access to it. Secure your gadgets such as your tablet, phones or laptops. Be realistic and avoid being too trusting – there are always people who might want to take your valuables to make money for it.

Separate and Spread Out
While travelling, it is ideal to divide your finances – money and credit cards in different wallets or pouches. Avoid putting your wallet in your jean’s rear pocket – your front pockets or on your jacket pocket is your best option.

Keep Copies of Your Documents
Be sure to keep a copy of your important documents such as your passport, ticket and others. You can have it scanned, printed or emailed to yourself so that you’ll have them handy in case of emergency.

Yes, it’s a jungle out there, but travel changes people – despite potential dangers on the road, people who travel become more compassionate, kinder, motivated and inspired. Just stay alert and be mindful of the culture, belief and practices on top of these safety travel tips to avoid any untoward incidents while travelling.

travel tips
image via http://delta.com

A Day Well-Spent in Iconic London

London is an iconic city that continuously draws in travellers from all over the world. But, if for some reasons you find yourself with only a day to spend in this wondrous city, make the most of out it and plan your itinerary strategically.  Keep in mind that there’s more to London than just the Buckingham Place and the Westminster Abbey, though they are undoubtedly two of the most impressive landmarks ever! So here’s how you can make the most of your day and sample some of the best alternatives to touristy spots of this remarkable city.

Tower Bridge

Take a Morning Walk

Start walking along the city’s South Bank to get an impressive aerial views of London stretching from across the river. Here you can admire two notable landmarks that are in close proximity – the historic Tower Bridge and the symbol of modernity – the Shard. Continue your walk down to Shakespeare’s Globe and if you’re interested, you can check out a play. This theater is quite legendary and you shouldn’t pass up the experience of sitting in one of its velvet covered seats. Looking for someplace to grab a bite? Check out the Borough Market and its endless restaurant and food stall options. It’s the perfect place to be for foodies and travelers to rest for lunch.

Stroll in the afternoon

Bask in the cool London temperature and take a stroll to some of the City’s galleries and museums. Alternatively, you can ditch the National Gallery to check more fascinating facts and artifacts at the British or Imperial War Museum. You can spend hours on end inside these history-rich buildings. Afterwards, you can relax and simply enjoy London’s open air freshness at the Regent’s Park. The place offers beautifully landscaped gardens to give you an impression of royalty.  If you’re still up to it, you can also check out London Zoo and be impressed with its 750 animal species. This zoo is consider as one of the best in the world and will offer you fun and excitement the rest of the afternoon.

A Night Cap

The most picturesque views while walking in London can be seen during sunset. Head to Camden and stroll down to ride the tube to the Regent’s Canal. Cap the night with lively entertainment or shopping from a selection of pub, theaters and market stalls in the area. The World’s End or the Hawley Arms are just some of the most recommended watering holes in this region.

Want some other alternative places to check out in London? There’s the SoHo for fashionistas and the East End – London’s equal to NYC’s Broadway!

london red bus
the iconic double-decker bus

Places to Visit and Things to Do in Fraser Island

One of the numerous smaller islands that comprise the beautiful country of Australia is Fraser Island. You can find it just off the south Queensland coast, opposite Hervey Bay. It stretches 122 kilometers long and has an expanse ranging between five and 25 kilometers. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, which is why it is considered a part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage.

It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Australia. People visit the island to admire its exceptional beauty. If you haven’t been there, picture these in your mind: long, uninterrupted white beaches sandwiched by sand cliffs of striking colors and over 100 freshwater lakes with tea-colored and clear, blue waters surrounded by white sandy beaches. Try to visualize rainforests along the banks of swift, crystal-clear creeks, immense sand blows, and cliffs of colored sand that are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the whole world. There are wetlands that boast of rare, patterned ferns, mangrove colonies, sea-grass beds, more or less 40,000 species of migratory shorebirds, and rare, vulnerable, and endangered species of dugongs (sea cows), turtles, ant-blue butterflies, and eastern curlews. Little wonder, then, that Fraser Island was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 in recognition of its natural values.

lake Mckenzie beach

You can do so many things once you set foot on Fraser Island. Nevertheless, one of the most famous attractions there is its highly invigorating natural environment that makes for a day of extreme adventure. The island is littered with dramatic tracks that are perfect for driving a 4WD. You can hire one and explore interesting places right on the island such as the following:

1. Lake McKenzie – This is an astounding body of azure water with low ph levels. The waters are surrounded by soft white sand, which makes it the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely dip before heading out to your next stop.

2. Pile Valley – Here, you can admire a rainforest environment that has existed for years. You can certainly immerse yourself in the wonders of creation and beauty of nature in this place, what with its leafy trees and quiet streams.

3. Stonetool Sand blow – This is an active sand blow covering a decent part of a forest. Once the sand blow moves across the island, what appears to be a vast dessert slowly gives rise to the forest.

4. Eli Creek – This is the best route to take, wading through cool waters, if you want to go from the rainforest to the Coral Sea at 75 Mile Beach. Incidentally, the said beach is aptly named because of the sand shores that stretch for 75 miles.

5. Maheno Shipwreck – The wreckage of this trans-Tasman liner that was blown off-course by a cyclone washed up on the waters of 75 Mile Beach in 1935. To this day, you can take in the sight of the wreckage while on the beach.

6. Pinnacle Colored Sands – Iron compounds in the sand made possible this wonder of nature. The location takes its name from the rainbow-colored sand and rocks in the area that makes for a uniquely beautiful sight. Make sure you have your camera handy when you visit this place because you’re sure to come face-to-face with a shot-worthy landscape.

After visiting these places, you can go back to the beach and cave in to some adrenalin-pumping activities like snorkeling and diving. Of course, if extreme activities are not your cup of tea, you can always rent a trailer boat and go fishing.

coloured sands
colored sands

The Famous Windmills of Holland

Windmills are to Holland what the Colosseum is to Rome. Simply put, these windmills of Holland have become icons that depict everything Dutch. Funnily, though, the Dutch are not the ones who invented windmills.

Now the question that may be running through your mind is how these windmills became synonymous with Holland.

It might have been during the 1600s when windmills began ingraining themselves into Dutch culture. That was when Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest added a crankshaft to a windmill, thereby inventing the wind-powered sawmill. This invention made it possible for wood to be sawed at a significantly higher speed (according to Wikipedia, it was able to convert log timber into planks 30 times faster). From then on, sawing mills grew explosively, making way to the windmills that are now a permanent fixture in Holland.

Hausbootfahrt in Holland - Keukenhof - Park mit Tulpen und Muehle
Photo of the Hausbootfahrt in Holland – Keukenhof – Park mit Tulpen und Muehle (original link cannot be found)

In fact, prior to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, an estimated 10,000 windmills that proudly dotted the countryside became a defining attribute of Holland. Then and now, windmills were crucial in powering sawmills and grain mills, as well as pumping water from low-lying areas to keep a great many parts of Holland flood-free.

Over the years, though, the number of windmills dwindled. Today, there are roughly 1,000 Dutch windmills still standing primarily for historical and tourism purposes.

One of the most famous groups of windmills in Holland is the Kinderdijk system located around 15 km east of Rotterdam, which is composed of 19 windmills. These were built in the mid-1700s to keep the area from being flooded. These picturesque windmills are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time to visit this place is in July and August, since that’s when all 19 windmills operate in full accord. If you love ice-skating, you can visit the place during winter and ice-skate with your family along the Kinderdijk.

Another group of historical Dutch windmills is found in Zaanse Schans, which is a neighborhood of Zaandam in North Holland. About 250 years ago, this area was considered one of the very first industrial sites in the world; thus, over 600 mills could be found here. These mills did everything, from producing shelves to manufacturing paper. Nevertheless, as years passed, the historic windmills were relocated as part of an open-air conservation area and museum, the Zaans Museum, which was established in 1994. Apparently, this museum, which focuses on the European Route of Industrial Heritage, receives over 900,000 visitors each year. If you want a close-up look at some of the more popular Dutch icons like clogs, cheeses, and of course, windmills, Zaanse Schans is the place to visit.

Now if you want to see the largest windmills in the world, Schiedam is the place you want to be. The windmills in that area reach up to 33 meters tall! You can visit “De Nieuwe Palmboom” (The New Palm Tree) windmill, which also functions as a museum, if you want to find out more about the history and purpose of the Schiedam windmills. Suffice it to say the windmills of Schiedam played an important role in the production of jenever or Dutch gin. Originally, there were 20 windmills in this area. Now, only five remain to this day – “The Whale,” “The Three Cornflowers,” “The Freedom,” “The North,” and “The New Palm Tree.” However, a sixth mill, “De Kameel” (The Camel), was rebuilt in 2011.

windmill
image via http://royalegacy.blogspot.com

Top Historic Sites on the Island of Corfu (Kerkyra)

Despite being a small island the Greek Island of Corfu has a long and varied history, with many stories to be uncovered and sights to be seen. Holidays in Corfu can be a real history lesson as the island has been inhabited since 1300BC and been involved in many battles right up to World War II. It has always been a plentiful island located between the landmasses of Greece and Italy, making it a prime target for invasion. These days things are a lot calmer, but the relics and stories still remain ready to be discovered.

The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort), Kerkyra
image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/orientalizing/

The Palaio Frourio (Old Fort)

The Old Fort sits on the East side of Corfu town and has a small museum to explain its significance in Corfiot history. The museum is well worth a visit, even just to view some of the oldest remaining art in existence, dating back to the 1st Century. Whilst there has been a fort here at all times since the 6th Century, much of what remains today was built by the Venetians at a later date and repaired by the British in the years that followed.

gardiki castle corfu
Gardiki castle walls

Gardiki Castle

Gardiki Castle is now partially ruins, but once stood tall above the Gardiki village, protecting it from invaders. The castle is Byzantine by design and its octagonal shape was once decorated with art of the time. Sitting among olive groves, this picturesque relic is a huge attraction on the island.

Palaiokastritsa
image via http://www.greeka.com/

Palaiokastritsa, a Panagia Theotokos Monastery

The Palaiokastritsa, a Panagia Theotokos Monastery dates back to 1225 and is located in a beach resort. This strange combination makes for an interesting daytrip as the beach is notoriously clean, and the monastery houses a small religious museum, home to a supposed sea monster skeleton! The current building was built in 1700 but the site itself has many ancient stories to tell.

Islands are great places to find a wealth of history as they have often witnessed many battles and changed hands multiple times over the ages. Corfu is no exception and is a fantastic place to explore the past.