Being risk-free certainly doesn’t mean not having fun. But if you’re traveling with your kids, peace of mind and security are sure to be at the top of your list.
The Morgan Quinto Press’ yearly report on the Safest Cities in America based on crime statistics has listed the following cities as the safest in the United States:
5. Greece, New York. The city of Greece, New York highlights spectacular waterfronts and winding hiking trails. The city provides the perfect escape for those looking to have a relaxing time out from the busy city life. It is in the northern part of the county and borders the City of Rochester on the east, the town of Gates and the historic Erie Canal on the south, the towns of Parma and Ogden on the West, and Lake Ontario on the north.
Graceful birds are only one of the many possible wildlife sightings. Tourists with a keen eye can spot everything from turkey vultures to deer in the town’s open spaces. A leisurely stroll along the sands of Charlotte Beach is another popular tourist activity. Those who enjoy a good shopping trip will surely find the Mall at Greece Ridge Center the place to be as it is home to over 150 stores and 1.7 million square feet of prime shopping.
4. Thousand Oaks, California. Tree-dotted hills and scenic mountains make up the surroundings for the city of Thousand Oaks. The city is 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean, and Los Angeles and Santa Barbara less than an hour by car.
Hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Areas attract nature-lovers and hikers alike. Exquisite plant life can be enjoyed at the Conejo Valley Botanical Park (free admission), and history buffs can indulge the city’s past by visiting the Chumash Interpretative Center.
3. Mission Viejo, California. Close to most of the major attractions in Orange County and San Diego, the community of Mission Viejo puts visitors and tourists into driving distance of both Laguna Beach and the historic Mission de San Juan Capistrano. A further drive will take one to the many attractions of San Diego, including Sea World and the famous San Diego Zoo, or to the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland in Anaheim.
Activities to keep you busy in the city include golf – where fees range from $17 to $25 – a stroll in one of the city’s many lush parks, or time out on the beach at Laguna Beach or Dana Point.
2. Amherst, New York. Home to the main campus of the University of Buffalo, Amherst serves as a town center with an ongoing array of lectures, plays, exhibits, and sporting events.
The Amherst Museum lets one peek into the 19th century, as the 35-acre historical museum also has exhibits that focus on local history and period costumes.
The Antique World and Marketplace is a 200-acre complex in Clarence which is a 10-minute drive from Amherst, and features a vast collection of indoor/ outdoor antique collections. As well, the waters of the Niagara Falls are a mere 20 minutes away.
When you’re ready to eat, head on to Rooties – the restaurant home to the best buffalo wings in the area.
1. Newton, Massachusetts. Minutes away from the attractions of Boston, Newton offers a diverse range of history, culture, and fine cuisine. For example, the Jackson Homestead Museum and Historical Society renders exhibits, special programs, and all types of research resources pertaining to the Underground Railroad, genealogy, and local history.
Music lovers surely should not miss weekends at the Mall at Chestnut Hill, where shopping is made even more enjoyable with the accompanying live jazz bands.
Art enthusiasts can enjoy Newton-style art and entertainment at the intimate, 150-seat New Repertory Theater. The company produces 5 new works each season and is known for top-quality performances.
Dining is certainly a special treat at Newton. The Capital Grille Steakhouse or Appetito features Tuscan-accented Italian cuisine and is an easy favorite among tourists and locals alike.
If you are an avid traveller, youâ€™re probably used to reading guide books and seeing the same formulaic information about a country. At times it can be off putting because you rarely get a sense of the destination until you actually get there. As Iâ€™ve mentioned before, blogs are a good way to virtually explore before you travel there. Besides lenient drug laws, tulips, and wooden clogs, The Netherlands has an amazing culture, architecture and landscapes. The following blogs are a mix of photo, expat and travel.
- Dutch Daily Photo is the site of amateur photographers Piet Osefius and Rob van Kleef, living in The Hague. The site has almost a thousand photos; not only of The Netherlands, bu also of other places they have travelled.
- Dweaf is the photoblog of MichaÃ«l Bakker, who lives in Arnhem. His daily photos range from portraits and architecture to trips to New York and nature. His photos are also available on flickr.
- Aan de Dijk is photographer Rachel Jamesâ€™s site. Sheâ€™s an American whoâ€™s been living in The Netherlands since 1998. She describes her photos as â€œthe simple, banal, everyday scenes that make up Dutch daily life.â€
- Talkin is a basic photoblog by Maarten Scholder. Iâ€™ve included it on the list because he focuses mainly on nature and landscapes. His photos provide a great view on what the rest of the country looks like outside of Amsterdam.
As Iâ€™ve mentioned before, expat blogs are a great way to virtually explore a place before you go. The following are a mix of personal and family expat blogs:
- Dutched Pinay on Expatriotism, written by a Philipino woman, is an excellent resources for information about daily life in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The blog provides a number of interesting links and Dutched Pinay travels quite a lot (with a camera!), so you get a lot more than just the Netherlands.
- Something to Say: About Life in the Netherlands is a personal expat blog. Itâ€™s fairly family-oriented, which is great if you are looking to take your kids for a trip, or a long-term stay, to Holland. Jenn is quite an avid blogger, so besides finding out about Holland, you get to read some funny posts.
- Blonde But Bright is written by a Minnesotan woman, living in Ledien. The blog is three years old so youâ€™ve got a lot to work through.
- Stitched in Holland is a mix between a mommy blog and an expat blog. Ashleigh writes about Dutch culture, food, family, and working as a trainee florist, all the while trying to deal with a foreign language. She has taken a break from writing her blog at the moment but there is still two years worth of archives to explore.
- Invading Hollandâ€™s tag line is â€˜The story of an accident prone Englishmanâ€™. Stuart has lived in Holland since 2001. The blog could definitely be described as humorous and the author also draws his own cartoons to accompany posts.
Good olâ€™ travel blogs give you a quick snapshot onto specific locations, as opposed to an overall feel for a place that you are more likely to get from expat blogs.
- TravelPost Netherlands blogs are my favourite because bloggers rate and review destination, restaurants, museums, etc. as well as posting about their own expeiences.
- TravelBlog has over 1000 entries about The Netherlands. You can filter your reading by area and there is also a dedicated photo section.
- RealTravel has some good posts about Holland Itâ€™s a similar layout to TravelBlog but blogs are rated according to popularity so donâ€™t be surprised to find yourself reading blogs from a few years ago.
- prised to find yourself reading blogs from a few years ago.
Tags: Tips · Travel
Often referred to as the “Sleeping Giant” of Asia, Indonesia comprises of more than 17,000 islands, and is also the fourth most populous country in the world, and has the largest Muslim population in the world.
Indonesia offers a variety of destinations and places to visit. With these many islands, tourists have the option of going to some of the popular destinations in the country like Bali, touring volcanoes and other land formations, or simply visit mosques or temples. To discuss in detail, some of the top places to visit in Indonesia are:
1. Bali. Home to about 4 million people, Bali is rich in natural resources, friendly people, and a year-round pleasant climate, which makes it relatively easy for travelers accustomed to different seasons to adjust to the temperature and climate of the country.
The beaches in Bali are not just your average beach. They are the hot spots at night as the beaches come alive and become venues for dancing, parties, and lots of fun. The abundance of natural resources, flora and fauna makes this island unique.
2. Istiqlal Mosque. The largest mosque in Southeast Asia, the Istiqlal Mosque was constructed in 1975 and can accommodate more than 120,000 people, although it’s not everyday that that many people come to visit this mosque. During Idul Firti and Idul Adha are the days when a lot of people come to pray at the mosque, as these are the holiest days of the year.
The name “Istiqlal” means “freedom” and the top floor of the mosque offers a great view of the many people who come to the mosque to pray. Aside from religious facilities, the Istiqlal Mosque also has provisions for social and cultural activities ranging from lectures, seminars, conferences, bazaars, and several programs for women, the youth and children.
3. Prambanan Temple. Known among the locals as Roro Jonggrang, the Prambanan Temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia. The three main shrines are dedicated to three Hindu gods: Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu.
Aside from the three main shrines, there are a total of 224 temples in the complex. Visitors and tourists are drawn to the sight of the main shrines, which is viewable across great distances and rises above the scattered ruins of former temples. Viewing the sunrise behind the Prambanan Temple is also a must-see, usually around 5:00 in the morning.
4. Sulawesi. Formerly and more commonly known as Celebes and unofficially referred to as Orchid Island, Sulawesi is situated between Borneo and the Maluku Islands. People of Sulawesi are known for their diverse artistic abilities, which include pottery, weaving, and dancing. They are also very good at intricate weaving.
When in Sulawesi, it is a must to visit Bunaken, one of Indonesia’s most famous diving areas, which draws scuba divers all over the world. In the waters of Bunaken, it is not uncommon to come across dolphins or schools of whales. The Tana Toraja is another popular tourist destination primarily due to their famed and elaborate burial rites.
5. Lake Toba – is the largest volcanic lake in the world. Lake Toba is usually on most itineraries or agendas of tourists traveling to Sumatra, as the climate is pleasant and the view is spectacular. What makes this lake stand above the rest is that it has a small lake within the lake itself. People who live in the proximity of Lake Toba are usually Bataks – easily distinguishable with their colorful decorations and their houses with unique roofs that curve upward on both ends.
In Sumatra, many tourists also visit Tuk Tuk, the old cemetery of King Sidabutar, and the Ambarita.
Bolivia is an amazingly beautiful and diverse country that is often thought of as a place of civil unrest. It is also a place of loving people and intensely raw nature.
Bolivia is located on the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Brazil. It is a landlocked country that is full of many natural wonders. Part of the natural treasures of Bolivia are the national parks. Here is a list of some of the diverse parks worth traveling for:
- Kaa-lya National Park: this is a park encompassing 3,441,115 hectares, making it the largest in Bolivia and South America. It is the home to protected wetlands and the indigenous people of the area. It is a remote area that is still working on its tourism possibilities.
- Noel Kempff Mercado National Park: located in northeastern Bolivia, this 1.5 million hectare park is the home to one of the most diverse parks in the world. Every type of landscape can be seen. From rain forests to thorn scrub, from mountains to wetlands, this park allows the most ease in seeing Mother Nature in her true habitat. There are over 4,000 species of vascular plants alone, located within the park, and five distinct ecosystems: the rain forest, gallery forest, semi-deciduous tropical forest, savannah and dry cerrado.
- Beni Biosphere Reserve and Biological Station: this park was created to help teach and preserve a natural balance between man and nature. Over 200,000 people live within the park. An equality is being created between man and the use of natural resources, such as logging and cattle farming.
- PilÃ³n Lajas Biosphere Reserve: this park is an amazingly diverse area of flora and fauna. It has four distinct ecological areas allowing a safe home for thousands of endangered species, such as the Giant Otter.
- Tariquia Fauna and Flora Reserve: this is a true jungle park. The Bolivian Tucumanic Jungle and its animals are protected in this diverse ecosystem.
- Madidi National Park: this park is located in the northwestern part of Bolivia, within the Amazon river basin. This is also a very diverse park that encompasses huge mountains with glaciered peaks, pampas, savannas and cloud forests within the 18,958 square kilometers. There is a wonderful ecotourism reserve that was created by the locals. A handmade canoe takes you back to thatch roofed huts and a bio-friendly Chalalan Ecolodge. Nestled on the shores of Chalan Lake, this eco-friendly area is a fabulous place to watch the animals of the forest in their natural habitat. There is also another Ecolodge called the San Miguel del Bala that is accessed by a forty minute boat ride on the Beni river. Madidi borders three other protected areas, the Manuripi-Heath, Apolobamba (located in Peru) and the Manu Biosphere Reserve, to create the largest expanse of protected land.
- Torotoro National Park: located in the center of Bolivia, this park is the home to amazing geological formations and fossilized dinosaur footprints. This is also the home to the small village of Torotoro which is a delightful tourist excursion.
- AmobÃ³ro National Park: This is a beautiful and diverse park located in Central Bolivia. Humans are not allowed to live within the 4,425 square kilometers (1709 square miles). Mining has also been banned from within the park. This is a major step forward for the protection of the environment because the Bolivian government, in the past, considered mining more important than environmental issues. The park is the sanctuary for over 800 species of birds and 125 mammalian species including Puma, Ocelots and the rare Spectacled Bear
It is recommended to check on the stability of the country before traveling to Bolivia.
Safe at home, itâ€™s easy to tell what someoneâ€™s non-verbal cues are saying to you or about you: as long as you donâ€™t think too much about it. The guy whistling at the girl or checking her out from across the room usually thinks sheâ€™s attractive. She might have a piece of broccoli stuck in her teeth, but thatâ€™s not usually the meaning. Likewise, a woman tossing her hair or licking her lips is probably trying to seduce someone. However, while travelling, the rules might change.
Itâ€™s not actually anything to be worried about. Just because the rules change doesnâ€™t mean that theyâ€™re anything to freak out about. Itâ€™s just cause to be careful. If youâ€™re going somewhere, be sure to read up a little bit about that countryâ€™s non-verbal communication before heading out.
One of the best parts of travel is learning as you go. Though that can get you into trouble, itâ€™s a great learning experience and can be a lot of fun. Most people figure out the rules as they go along, whether thatâ€™s through something horribly stupid they do, from talking to other people, or just from watching others. Here are some tips:
(1) Donâ€™t smile. Unless you have a very good reason. Americans are typically perceived as friendly. Friendliness can be portrayed in many different ways, and can be taken in many different ways. In the States, a smile is seen as a greeting, a way to express happiness and contentment, or an encouragement – a friendly gesture, if you will.
However, in France, a smile from a woman to a man says, â€œI want you now,â€ or â€œI think youâ€™re hot,â€ or â€œI want to have sex with you.â€ Even a woman to woman smile can be misconstrued, because that smile might mean â€œI think youâ€™re stupid,â€ â€œIâ€™m trying to trick you,â€ or â€œIâ€™m so stupid, I donâ€™t know any better than to smile.â€
Likewise, in Russia, the American smile is completely understood, because one does not smile simply out of politeness in the Russian culture. The constant smile, so popular in the US, is a demonstration of insecurity and unwillingness to show oneâ€™s true feelings. It can also be a sign that someone finds you attractive. A smile can also be used to indicate you think someone is stupid.
More often than not, the American in question is not attempting to suggest any of the above. However, when you smile, youâ€™re suggesting something. Itâ€™s best to just not smile unless you know how that smile will be interpreted, and what, exactly, you are suggesting.
(2) Eye Contact is a Big No-No. How many Americans have been told by a friend or a family member, a finger wagging in their face, â€œYou look me in my eyes when Iâ€™m talking to you,â€ or need eye contact to be convinced the other person is listening?
However, eye contact isnâ€™t always a smart thing. Like a smile, eye contact can show interest, and should be avoided when walking down the street. Brief eye contact is acceptable in some places, like France, but it should not be prolonged.
Also, in many places, such as some Asian countries or even in some Native American cultures, eye contact is seen as a means of establishing equality. It is unacceptable for a young person to establish eye contact with someone who is much older in these cultures, or even of the opposite sex.
Body language is an important part of everyday communication, so whether or not you speak the language, your non-verbal cues may be saying more than you mean to. Or something completely different. Non-verbal communication makes up about 80 percent of any given conversation. In a foreign country, where non-verbals are different, it is important to be aware of what you are saying, and to know you might be saying something different.
Tags: Tips · Travel
Wine lovers know that wine tastes best when itâ€™s â€œat itâ€™s source.â€ When you can look around and see where the wine comes from – whether itâ€™s Siduri from a winery in Santa Rosa, Texas, or wine from Bordeaux, France. When you can stand only miles away from where the grapes that made the wine were harvested, it adds a whole new experience to the wine tasting. You can see the buildings, or the countryside, or the chateaus spread out before you.
The following list includes some of the best and most original vineyards worldwide. These are places that are not typically sought-after when in search of wine. And while you might be able to purchase them in your home locale, half the experience comes from getting them at their home.
(1) Friuli, Italy.
The vineyards in Friuli are scattered throughout the small village towns, and old churches line the streets. Villagers bustle about, impeccably dressed. Wines from this region include the Viotto Bianco, a blended white wine produced by Scarbolo, and sold in his restaurant, â€œLa Frasca.â€ Another amazing wine is a red wine produced by the Gallo family, in Vie de Romans, the Flors di Uis, a three-grape blended wine that â€œsmells like Malvasia, and tastes like Riesling.â€
(2) Santa Ynez Valley, California.
This region is filled with hills, near enough to the ocean that it has a very positive affect on the vineyards. White wines from this area include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and red wines include Pinot Noir, and Merlot. The Gainey Vineyard is run by the Gainey family and they make it their mission to produce world-class wine. Dan Gainey said, â€œWe consider our vineyards and the wines we make from them an expression of the love we have for our land and this beautiful area of California.â€
(3) Casablanca Valley, Chile.
Although Chile is not the first place thought of when one speaks of excellent wines, this area of the country is reshaping that opinion. These $8 wines taste like they should cost much more. The region has incredibly fertile soil, with mountains filled with trees, and valleys in-between them, where the vineyards are nestled comfortably. Wines found in this region include tangy Sauvignon Blancs, strong Pinot Noirs, and bright red Riesling.
(4) AndalucÃ¬a, Spain.
This region has more space devoted to grapevines and vineyards than anywhere else in the world. AndalucÃ¬a has miles of beautiful, golden beaches, gorgeous mountain ranges, and stunning white villages, densely covered by olive trees and vineyards. This region of Spain is best known for a sweet, amber sherry that it specializes in, which was made famous by the British. Other wines include a relatively new white wine, D.O Condado de Huelva, Fino Soto, and an exquisite Sangria.
(5) Central Otago, New Zealand.
October is a green month in Central Otago, though the mountains are still covered in snow, and herds of sheep dot the fertile but rocky hillsides. The vineyards these grapes come from are further south than any other vineyards, and the wine they produce has a note of austerity within the fruity ripeness. Wines include Pinot Noir, a white Block 1 Riesling, and a Pinnacle Pinot Noir, which is blended from the seasonâ€™s four best barrels each year. The Pinnacle Noir is not yet readily available in the United States.
Mixing travel with pleasure is always the best way to go, and if wine is one your pleasures, then itâ€™s easy – and fun – to explore new places to find it. You never know what you might stumble across when you enter the small, hatched pink restaurant that looks like it grew out of the hill, or the huge, formidable-looking castle.
The Republic of Maldives offers a lot of activities to do and sights to see. The beaches and reefs in this country are fantastic; though it is not to be mistaken for just another country with great beaches. There are several activities and sights to see one can engage himself/herself when in the Maldives, namely:
Like any country, souvenir shops are abundant in this country. Tourists have a range of souvenir choices: craft pieces, wood carvings, keyrings, handmade photo albums, fridge magnets and mats that are easily distinguishable with the bright pink and/or orange color they’re painted with. What’s even better is that you can also haggle for these items as they normally don’t have fixed price tags on them.
If you’re big on shopping, surely you’d be happy to know that shopping in Maldives is duty-free, and tourists can shop for branded items like watches, chocolates, perfumes, electronic gadgets, and even clothing and accessories like sunglasses. Fashion boutiques that are also duty-free offers leather items, jackets, trousers, silk shirts and even sportswear. Just be aware though that the Maldives government has banned the export of products made from turtle shells, black corals, pearl oyster shells, and red coral. So avoid or just don’t buy these items as there’s no chance you can take them out of the country anyway.
2. Scuba Diving.
Almost every single resort in the Maldives caters for scuba divers and accepts all international scuba diving certificates. For those just starting to learn scuba diving, almost all resorts conduct open water and advanced courses like night diving, rescue diving and underwater photography, and these classes are conducted in several languages like Italian, French and Japanese, aside from English.
Scuba diving equipment like masks, snorkels and fins are all available for hire, and some of the resorts in the Maldives offer scuba diving on a daily basis primarily due to its popularity and rarely are these activities canceled.
Snorkeling over the shallow waters of the islands is a great way to explore the underwater treasures of the Maldives. As snorkeling equipment is readily available in all resorts in the country, tourists can certainly enjoy going by themselves or with a group through the snorkeling excursions held by most resorts that give tourists and visitors a chance to be part of the diverse marine life and reef structures of the Maldives.
The Maldives is fast gaining popularity and establishing itself as a great place to surf. Surfing is relatively new to the Maldives, alhtough the 2006 O’Neil Deep Blue Contest held in the Maldives certainly helped put the country on the surfing map. While the majority of the recognized and popular surf spots are in the Male’ Atoll, it is highly recommended that tourists and visitors choose a resort located along the eastern side of North Male’ Atoll for easy and convenient access to a number of great surfing spots.
Fishing in the Maldives is one of the livelihoods in the country, as well as a popular pastime among locals and tourists. People in the Maldives take part in a variety of different types of fishing, including night fishing, morning fishing or big game fishing.
For night fishing, the boat leaves the island and anchors in one of the reefs before the sun sets in. The lines are then tethered with hooks and sinkers and are dropped overboard from both sides. If the fishing is good, it provides excitement for everyone; if not, it gives tourists and locals an excellent opportunity to relax under the setting sun while enjoying the view as your boat is slowly and softly rocked by the ocean.
For morning or big game fishing, tourists have the option of bringing their own equipment to experience the excitement during their visit. As most resorts organize night fishing trips at least once a week, big game or morning fishing can be organized by the resort you are staying in by request, if it’s not already included in the weekly program of the resort you’re staying at.
Besides the obvious main museums, such as the Louvre and the MusÃ©e dâ€™Orsay, Paris has a number of interesting and sometimes odd venues that donâ€™t get as much coverage. The following list contains museum (and one store) that tend to get left by the wayside in most guide books:
- Espace Montmartre-Salvador Dali,
9-11 rue Poulbot,
1 42 64 40 10,
By the name you can guess what this museum is about. For all Dali fans, itâ€™s a must. A number of less well known Dali pieces are on display, against the black walls and accompanied with the interesting sound track.
- MusÃ©e Pierre Marly des Lunettes et Lorgnettes de Jadis,
380 rue St-HonorÃ©,
As you might guess by the name, this museum holds a collection of glasses and other eyewear, housed in an opticianâ€™s store. There is also a collection of famous eyewear, including glasses worn by Audrey Hepburn and the Dalai Lama.
- MusÃ©e Edith Piaf,
5, rue Crespin du Gast,
75011, 01 43 55 52 72
Edith Piaf was one of Franceâ€™s most cherished singers, so it is surprising that the museum dedicated to her life is so small. The museum is by appointment only and consists of two rooms in an apartment, maintained by Bernard Marchois. Marchois is the author of two Piaf biographies and was an old friend of the singer. Piaf was buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, which is open to the public.
- MusÃ©e Marmottan,
2 rue Louis Boilly,
10 42 24 07 02,
Originally a collection of Napoleonic paintings, the collection has evolved, due to generous donations, into an impressive Impressionist museum.
- La Maison du Miel,
24 rue Vignon,
This is actually a store, not a museum, but is on this list for the intriguing experience. The store stocks 35 different types of honey. All honey can be tasted before purchasing and there are a number of different honey and wax products. The owners are used to people coming more of intrigue than necessity.
- MusÃ©e des Egouts de Paris,
93 quai dâ€™Orsay,
01 47 05 10 29
The Catacombs is not the only underground museum in Paris. Touring the cityâ€™s sewers, or at least a part of them, may seem strange, but the sewers have an incredible history and are also a great reminder of the environmental impact of our waste.
- MusÃ©e de Vin,
rue des Eaux,
5 square Charles Dickens,
01 45 25 63 26,
Considering weâ€™re in France, you would think the wine museum would get more of a mention in more guide books. The museum teaches you about wine tasting methods and the history of wine making. There is also a restaurant and there are regular wine tasting classes you can schedule into your visit.
- MusÃ©e dâ€™Histoire de la Medecine,
UniversitÃ© RenÃ© Descartes,
12, rue de l’Ecole de MÃ©decine,
01 40 46 16 93,
The museum is on the second floor of the UniversitÃ© RenÃ© Descartes, which is a beautiful location. The collection has a large range of surgical equipment from different periods and is thought to be the oldest collection in Europe.
- MusÃ©es de la Parfumerie Fragonard,
9 rue Scribe, 9eme,
39 bd des Capucines , 2eme
The museum is spread across two sites, but itâ€™s worth the inconvenience. The museum holds a collection of amazing perfumery equipment and introduces you to the strange secrets of the industry. It also explains wonderfully the significance that perfume has in our everyday life.