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The best way to kick off your Asian travels is in Chinas progressive and even tragically hip capital city of Beijing. Traditional relics like the Tiananmen gate stand juxtaposed against the imposing modernist architecture of recent history, most notable in the Dashanzi Art District. The Peoples Republic of China has its financial industries mainly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but Beijing remains the nations true cultural and political center.Orange County Meets Ming Dyna...

Begin In Beijing - Beijing Travel Information

Begin In Beijing - Beijing Travel InformationThe best way to kick off your Asian travels is in Chinas progressive and even tragically hip capital city of Beijing. Traditional relics like the Tiananmen gate stand juxtaposed against the imposing modernist architecture of recent history, most notable in the Dashanzi Art District. The Peoples Republic of China has its financial industries mainly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but Beijing remains the nations true cultural and political center.Orange County Meets Ming Dynasty in BeijingWhen many travelers think of Beijing, they imagine the dictatorial atmosphere of Mao Zedong or television images of protesting citizens; however, Beijing has a tremendous history beginning as early as the 1st century BCE and has persevered through Kublai Kahns Mongols, Japanese invasion, and the Communist Civil War victory in 1949.The Forbidden City is a fascinating journey through 500 years of Imperial secrecy. The head of state no longer resides here and the beautiful buildings and breathtaking gardens are open to the public year-round. The entrance to the Forbidden City is the infamous Tiananmen Square and gate, protected by four formidable marble lions. Nearby, the Temple of Heaven is another sublime representation of an era of dynasties and royal architecture. With airfare to Beijing, you also have the extra opportunity to see the Great Wall of China, which is only one and a half hours away by bus.Although there are hundreds of historical sites in Beijing, the rapidly sprawling metropolis is also overflowing with contemporary wonders and luxuries. The National Zoo houses the largest inland aquarium in the world as well as Chinas famous pandas. Next to the Imperial Palace, the Wan Fung Art Gallery provides insight into the artistic transition from regal and traditional to cutting edge contemporary. Most interestingly, the suburban sprawl has witnessed the creation of a $60 million American-inspired community called Orange County, complete with town homes and tract housing.Chinese Cultural Centrifuge in BeijingExperience two cultural traditions in one at the Laoshe Tea House where you will be both charmed by Chinese opera and soothed by a variety of traditional teas. For world-class shopping in Beijing, visit Wangfujing, or you can find your way into the many enchanting smaller districts for traditional Chinese shops and boutiques. Beijing is also home to several notable temples like the Miaoying, and even a mosque that was built in 996.With such dynamic experiences to offer and the immaculate preservation of its past, Beijing is truly an international city and theres no wonder the cosmopolis has been chosen for the Olympics. Get your airfare to Beijing now or wait for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Don't Let A Bad Choice Of Stateroom Ruin Your Cruise! The Details You Need To Know...

Don

Important Cruise Decisions: The Details You Need To Know In Choosing a StateroomNot all staterooms are created equally. This is a fact that becomes all too painful if you happen to choose the wrong room for your cruise vacation. Ive heard horror stories of sleepless nights filled with the endless droning of the ships engines, of claustrophobic cabins scarcely the size of a walk-in closet, and of vacationers having to go up two or three decks before they could tell if it was day or night. On the other hand, there are stories of unbelievable luxury, of sitting idly on a private verandah watching the sun set while sipping wine, and of spacious suites decorated to lavish perfection.Believe it or not, these two scenarios, and everything in between, happen on every cruise ship on each and every voyage. This is why cabin selection is one of the most, if not the very most, important decisions that you can make before taking your cruise. And with more than 20 different types of staterooms available on a single cruise ship, choosing the right room is no easy chore.Understand you are going to love the cruise ship itself. There will be many spacious areas on the ship and on the deck and there will be so much to do on the ship and on the different shore excursions that you can actually only use your room to sleep! The cruise industry is not expanding and building ships at the great rate they are because people are not enjoying their cruise. On the contrary, people love cruises and there are many reasons why. I just want you to understand what the staterooms are really like so you are not surprised in a negative fashion and so you can make an informed decision to make your cruise the best possible dream vacation it can be for you.The number one factor that most people consider before choosing a stateroom is price. The price that you pay for booking a stateroom is dependent on many factors including the size of the room, the rooms layout, and the location of the room on the ship. The ship itself can even play a role in how much a stateroom costs. This is because luxury liners are normally crafted with larger rooms and more built-in luxuries. In fact, the smallest stateroom available on a luxury liner might be much larger than a room on a mainstream cruise liner. Rooms on a luxury liner also almost always come with an ocean view or balcony.Types of Cruise Ships.While many new cruise liners have inside staterooms of comparable size no matter which type of vessel you choose, the ship type plays an important role if you book passage on an older ship. Keep in mind that a larger ship usually has larger rooms and more amenities, but dont take this for granted without checking it out first or you could get a surprise. Here is a brief overview of popular cruise lines and the types of ships that they use:1. Large Ships Carnival Cruise Lines; Celebrity Cruises; Norwegian Cruise Line; Princess Cruises; and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.2. Mid-size Ships Crystal Cruises; Holland America Line; and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.3. Small Ships Hapag-Lloyd Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises.Types of StateroomsOnce you have chosen the type of ship that you wish to book passage on, you will need to decide what type of room would be best suited to your voyage. This will no doubt be decided by a variety of factors including your budget, the length of your cruise, and your personal preferences.To help you decide, here is a list of the four major types of staterooms and a description of each:1. Standard Inside Staterooms (no window or porthole) These are the least expensive of all staterooms and are, therefore, the smallest. These rooms normally are only about 120 to 180 square feet, but are usually tastefully decorated. Gone are the bunk beds of yesteryear. Today, most inside staterooms are furnished with two twin beds that can be pushed together for a couple. While the sleeping situation has improved, the bathroom in an inside stateroom is still excruciatingly small. There is no tub, only a shower, and a noisy vacuum toilet like that on an airplane. A sink and a few shelves finish off this small, but functional space. The rest of the stateroom is decorated in much the same way as a hotel room with wall to wall carpeting, individually controlled heat and air conditioning, TV, telephone, dresser, and a reading chair.2. Standard Outside Staterooms (with porthole or window) These rooms are virtually identical to inside staterooms with one small exception: the window or porthole. Modern ships normally have large picture windows instead of a porthole but some modern ships still offer rooms with portholes on lower decks. These are less expensive than the rooms with windows but dont offer much of a view. Some portholes are even partially submerged under the waterline or blocked by lifeboats.3. Staterooms with Balconies or Verandahs These staterooms are larger than the standard stateroom and come complete with an outside space. Although small, this extra space gives you the opportunity to see the ocean at all times from every angle in your room. And when you bore of sitting inside your cabin, you can open your door to a fresh breeze or step out on the balcony to absorb the view. Many of these staterooms even have a separate sitting area furnished with a convertible sofa which supplies extra sleeping space.4. Suites Suites are balconied cabins that feature separate sleeping and sitting areas. These are the largest rooms that you can book on a cruise ship. Many even have large bathrooms which are completed with a tub. While these are the most expensive rooms aboard a cruise ship, the price may well be worth it if you plan on spending numerous days at sea or a good deal of time relaxing in your room.Another consideration that you need to make before booking a stateroom on a cruise ship is location. The location of your stateroom not only affects price but also affects the entire cruise experience. A stateroom too close to the engines can be noisy, and a stateroom on the lowest levels can make you feel like you are entombed and not part of the festivities on the upper decks. On the other hand, if you plan on spending little time in your room, these sacrifices might be well worth the money that you save. Now you know, so off you go!

More Information On Popular Vacation Getaways

More Information On Popular Vacation Getaways

If you are consistently under stress and dread the next boardroom meeting presentation, means you have had enough of the fast life and now it is taking it toll on you. Working today has just got more demanding and time consuming because of which you not only get too exhausted after a long day of work but do get little time for your family. In such cases a vacation getaway is the ultimate mantra of relaxation, which gives you that much needed time when you can sit back and enjoy with your entire family. So when it is about getaways, it is like getting a fresh start in your hectic life. A vacation getaway, as the name itself reflects, is a tour to your favorite tourist destination that you can plan with your entire family. These getaways can be planned with family so that children can enjoy and have time together with their parents which they don't usually get due to the hectic schedules. You can also go along with your loved ones to spend quality time together for a romantic getaway. For effective planning of the getaway some important information should always be taken into consideration. If you are planning for vacation getaway the choice of the destination can be based on your convenience, so that you can find the right balance between your office and vacations. Another way to plan a destination is to go in for your favorite destination, which you always longed to visit. Ideally a getaway destination should be such a place where less reaching time will be required and is accessible to various means of transport just incase you change your plans of travel. It is better to always book the tickets if you are going by flight before hand instead of waiting till the last minute. If you are undertaking a road trip then keep things in order like keeping the vehicle up-to-date and keeping the gas tank full to have a smooth, enjoyable and exciting journey till your destination. Packing is also one of the concerns so don't stuff your bags with too much of cloths and unnecessary accessories as many of the hotels provide shampoos, hair dryers and lotions which will lessen your burden. It is advisable to give children backpacks having handles and wheels, which they can carry it easily. This will also help the kids to understand effective vacation packing. You will come across variety of options for such vacations. Some of them are best for romantic getaways while some suitable for visit with entire family. Choose the option considering all the aspects involved in making a choice. There are many travel planners who can help you with the vacation getaway planning, if you are too busy with your office schedules. Take assistance from them if required. The travel planners will help you not only in planning but also in making the necessary arrangements like accommodation, dining, activity planning etc. When the time is too short for fun, take care that none of your time should be wasted in unnecessary hassles. A getaway vacation can rejuvenate you for the tough and busy working months.

Hello From Banff - Arrival In Banff And Skiing At Norquay

Hello From Banff - Arrival In Banff And Skiing At Norquay

On Sunday, after our high-intensity day in Calgary and after stocking up on groceries in the Mount Royal Area,, we left the city to head towards the Rocky Mountains. It was an interesting drive on Highway 1, the Transcanada Highway, heading towards the mountains. There were some interesing looking clouds on the horizon that kept us entertained on the drive and it didn't take us any more than about an hour and 15 mintues to get to Banff. We checked in at the Banff Rocky Mountain condominium resort and settled in for the evening to relax after a couple of really hectic days.Yesterday after a leisurely breakfast we got up to take a drive through Banff. Banff is a quaint mountain town with many different hotels, restaurants, shops and galleries. We drove down Banff Avenue, the town's main street, and since I had to pick a package up at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, we briefly explored this historic landmark. When Canadian Pacific built the railroads in the 1880s towards the West Coast, they determined that the Banff / Lake Louise area had tremendous potential for tourism and CPR built the Banff Springs Hotel in 1888 to develop this area for all the travellers who were keen to discover the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.After our very brief introductory exploration of this impressive building we decided to go skiing at Norquay, just 10 minutes from downtown Banff. On our first full day here we wanted to take it easy a bit since I am just getting over a major chest cold. I figured a couple of hours of local skiing would be enough of an initiation to the Canadian Rockies.Norquay refers to itself as "Banff's Best Kept Secret" and it has been around since 1926. Incidentally, Norquay is home to Thomas Grandi, Canada's World Cup GS 2 time Champion. This ski resort is also the only one in the Banff area that offers night skiing.What we found great was that Norquay offers the so-called Ski & Ride by the Hour passes and a 2 hour ticket was only $29, a great value. We drove up from the town on a forest road with many switchbacks and stopped several times at different lookout points to look over the Bow Valley and the Town of Banff. The vistas of the surrounding mountains are simply magnificent.We arrived at the ski resort not much later (Norquay is only 5 km from the Town of Banff), and since it was a Monday, the slopes were nice and empty. Norquays elevation at the base is 1,630 m (5350 feet) and at the top it is 2,133 m (7000 feet). The vertical drop is 1650 feet and the resort has 32 runs. About 20 % of its terrain is geared towards beginners, 36% towards intermediate skiers, 28% to advanced and 16% to expert skiers. According to their website, Norquay also has a terrain park that features gap jumps, table tops, and hits for all levels of riders. We , however, decided to stick to our good old trusted skis and forego the jumps and table tops....The runs on the south side looked extremely imposing, and most of them are single or double black diamonds. The slopes are extremely steep and covered with all sorts of bumps and moguls and this was an area we didnt feel confident enough to tackle. I am sure expert level skiers would have a ball there.We started with the first of four chairlifts and worked our way northwards and thoroughly enjoyed the extremely well-groomed blue runs. As a matter of fact, Norquay offers a Grooming Guarantee that ensures that the runs are always in perfect condition. We flew down a few of the single-black diamond runs, and because of the excellent grooming there was no problem at all, even for two non-experts like us.At one point we ventured onto the northernmost trail which connected horizontally along the hill to the last run which was a double-black diamond run at the top. It was very steep, with lots of moguls, and very narrow, probably no wider than 3 m (10 ft). That was a slightly unfortunate choice since we got bumped a little by the topography, but once we had made it through that dicey stretch, the slope improved and we enjoyed our run to the bottom of the hill.After our 2-hour ticket was finished we relaxed for a while in the spacious chalet at the bottom and watched the skiers coming down the hill. We both commented that Norquay was a very pleasant skiing experience and a great initiation to the Rocky Mountains.

A Tuscan State Of Mind

Sometimes traveling isn't just about going to a destination; it's a state of mind. Physically, I've been trapped in South Carolina for seven months now while mentally I try and put myself back in my favorite European places. One of my very favorites is the Tuscany region of Italy. While the city in South Carolina is a blistering desert of concrete, Tuscany radiates a rejuvenating warmth that washes over you like the rolling green of the hills. Since I'm currently unable to experience the area in person, I can only do what I can to substitute the experience. CDs full of pictures taken during my travels bring back stifled laughs and fond memories. The coffee table books I've collected over the years are so full of intense color and vivid landscape scenes that it makes my ache even worse. I even read "Under the Tuscan Sun" this week (which isnt done justice by the movie). Mayes is such a descriptive writer. She does such a perfect job bringing the area to life and I believe, deserves much credit for putting Cortona on the map. Her book stirs memories of my one day in this little town hot chocolate and pastries at a little caf in the morning, gelato under a patio umbrella in the pouring rain, and linen shopping after the sun triumphed over the stubborn clouds. It almost makes me forget that my 'gelato' is now Eddy's or something from Dairy Queen. I also try to substitute with cooking of course, I'm far from the authentic cuisine I once savored in the local family-owned restaurants. Tortellini al forno, penne al'arabiatta, even plain old spaghetti marinara is a work of art in Tuscany. I throw basil around like it's going out of style, get all giddy when I find a sweet gorgonzola or pecorino cheese at the grocery store, and keep Verdi on full volume while I create my own personal Italy in the kitchen. Fortunately, I've been able to bring back the very best extra virgin olive oil in the entire country La Macchia. The green, aromatic oil tastes so fresh and so light that you taste what you are meant to taste the fruit of the olive tree and not something reminiscent to wheel bearing grease. So even if my bruschetta is made from imported North Carolina tomatoes, South Carolina french bread, parmesan from Kraft, and dried basil from a lousy little plastic jar (out of fresh basil again), I still have my beautiful drizzling Tuscan olive oil. Italians also understand and appreciate the concept of 'breaks' (and not the 15 minute kind). Time doesn't rule a Tuscan's day, rather it revolves around life at the moment. I rush from one end of my current hometown to the other, running errands and trying to make it to appointments on time in Italy, being late is 'normale.' And when it gets to lunchtime, there's no rushing through the meal and then jumping back into a schedule. Between the shining sun at its zenith and a full stomach that's pulling you into a food coma, the day calls for a siesta. This ingenious concept not only refreshes the body but it literally pulls your mind into another world. Why fret about the next two hours when everyone else's life has also come to a relaxing standstill? Daydream, watch the tall grasses blow in the wind, or drink a cappuccino among friends with a vineyard as a backdrop. Until the notion of a daily siesta takes hold in America, I attempt to create my own with plastic patio furniture and a Coca-Cola that is, until the phone starts to ring with endless telemarketers anxious to sell me siding or refinance my mortgage. There are just some places that feed your soul and remain in your heart no matter where you go. The rise and fall of the graceful hills, the glittery silver-green leaves of the olive trees, the way the aged bricks glow in the last rays of the evening sun all call me back for more. In the meantime, though, I'll remain in a Tuscan state of mind.

San Diego Vacation Package

A lot packages that San Diego offers are so tempting and ready to take you to most fabulous places youll ever dream of. There are San Diego cards that will enable you to see a lot of diverse magnificent places as the boredom-beating museums, natural zoos, animal parks and beautiful sandy beaches at quite low rates, which if you visit on your own may cost you three to four times more expensive without the discount cards. In the same way for almost all events too there are packages for the convenience of visitors. You can benefit yourself by getting one or two packages for you. The memories of San Diego will keep you fresh even after you return to the dreary life routine, this incredible expedition of curiosity and wonder gives you a nice outlet from everyday tense life. The rocking night of San Diego will lull you to sleep when youll reach home from your office. Its a nice isolated corner of nature not yet exploited by man-made progress; one should visit it at least once in life.Vacations--a holiday from dull routine life, is something everyone deserves at least once a year. As far as I am concerned, I eagerly await that time. I long to just pack my bag and run far away from this monotonous everyday practice. I am sure everyone enjoys vacations. The only problem I face on a trip is the tiresome trouble of finding a hotel of my choice and in my price range; most of us have to juggle between quality and affordability, getting both at the same time is an impossible task. Many folks who face such a dilemma, end up buying a vacation home. In some cases, it makes sense to buy your own property at the place you love to vacation or retire. Imagine a different scenario though, where your vacation home is your favorite resort. What else one can wish for? There are clearly many advantages of buying a second home at a nice peaceful resort. You get to own the place; its an asset and if its on a real prime location, then its price is likely to rise. You can decorate it the way you always wanted. If you do end up selling it, you can usually get your money back, and then some. Its a one time investment and your vacation will be quite economical every year otherwise. Moreover you can also rent it out throughout the year or when you are not using it and enjoy the profit. Then there are side benefits of such an arrangement. Suppose you own a piece of property near a beach where you like to vacation with family. No doubt youll enjoy your stay there. But are you prepared to deal with the hassle of maintenance/expense of its upkeep and security? After all, you are responsible for all the upkeep of your property, from cutting grass to sanitary work. Property security too will be a constant risk with no one living in it. One can imagine it would be a bear to deal with all such issues. You may not be able to renovate it at the much needed times. If you do with to rent it out in off season, or when you cant visit yourself you have to vet out the people who are likely to trash your dream home. There are of course the alternatives. Timeshare is a short-term home owning opportunity. You can buy a vacation home for as little as one week of the year. By availing timeshare opportunity you may be able to enjoy your vacation inexpensively. In general, such properties cost less than staying in hotels. But on the other hand unlike your second home youll not get any income from it. Plus you never can predict the ultimate value of a timeshare, should you ever decide to sell it. After all, you are competing with the timeshare people. In contrast to a timeshare, investment in a fractional ownership allows you to hold on to your partially owned vacation property for much longer time periods. So by investing on fractional ownership vacation homes you can come to your favorite resort as many times as you want, Addition it will definitely cost you less than a comparable stay in a hotel. The price margin for fractional vacation homes for sale is quite fair. So you can also get this financial benefit out of it. On the other hand, the drawback is that you have to coordinate your stay with other people. Furthermore, as these sorts of vacation homes are not rented out, youll not be able to get any extra income. The options we discussed above excluding buying a second home dont make you a sole owner of any vacation property. If you want to buy a property but also think that you cannot take care of it, plus you are charmed by the idea of getting additional income, the hotel-vacation-home may just be the ticket for you. The way it works is, that you buy luxury vacation home or a vacation home, which is actually a room in a hotel; you buy it and spend your holidays in it any time around the year you want. When you buy a nice furnished room in a hotel, the first benefit is you dont have to decorate it; its already done for you. Room service? You got it! Furthermore you can rent it out. You also dont have to take extra headaches of maintaining it; the hotel will do that for you. There is a good chance that you can sell it at a great price. If it seems too good to be true, then it may be so in some of the cases. Like if you buy a room in a hotel and you rent it out afterwards the income would be shared with the hotel. On the other hand, if you room is not rented out you still have to pay the maintenance charges. Then renting out is also very tricky, as you yourself would like to use the room in the prime vacation season. That is why its very difficult to decide when you are going to use it and when to rent it out. The difficult choices are what make life interesting. To talk in more concrete terms, say you long for the beach fun. Perhaps a vacation place in San Diego is what the doctor ordered. San Diego is a paradise of beaches, splashing clear water, sandy coastline a desire of beach admirers. There are choices for a hotel-vacation-room available in San Diego. Staying in a San Diego hotel and navigating through its hotel inventory and paying the prime prices can get tricky though. There are several projects going on including Hard Rock Hotel that is consisted on 420 rooms all condo-hotel rooms for tourist. The price range in San Diego starts from a dollar400,000 "studio suite," with a kitchen area and one bathroom, to a dollar2.3 million two-bedroom property that's more similar to an actual condo than a hotel room. Not for everyone, I admit, but definitely an option to consider if you are at a certain price/benefit point. In case you are intrigued by this option, here are a few tips to consider. Try to project the hotel occupancy rate, as well as the share of hotel rent that you would get out of it. Unless there is a drastic change in the economy, you should be able to predict your income from such a property. This would, in turn be sufficient data for you to do a cost-benefit analysis. Obviously other options such as timeshares in San Diego as well as fractional units in San Diego also exist. There are few things you should consider before buying any vacation home fully or partially. The location of house is the main key. If a vacation home situated at a prime location, its price would be definitely higher. And on the other hand if you buy a property a bit away from residential area, that area may not be heavily traveled and could be security risk. But then the return would be also much better. For instance, if you rent out your vacation home that is near a beach, you can enjoy the scenic beauty as well as youll be getting good money out of it. For more information visit: http://san-diego.ixs.net

Summary

The best way to kick off your Asian travels is in Chinas progressive and even tragically hip capital city of Beijing. Traditional relics like the Tiananmen gate stand juxtaposed against the imposing modernist architecture of recent history, most notable in the Dashanzi Art District. The Peoples Republic of China has its financial industries mainly in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but Beijing remains the nations true cultural and political center.Orange County Meets Ming Dyna...