Travel Destinations
Encounter the Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos 
Tuesday, July 15, 2008, 06:35 PM - Ecuador
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"The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator, 525 nautical miles (972 km/604 mi) west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. The Galápagos archipelago, with a population of around 40,000, is a province of Ecuador; and the islands are all part of Ecuador's national park system. The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species and the studies by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle that contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection."

The Galapagos Islands known for its verdant greenery, gargantuan tortoises, and active volcanoes is on the heel of the recent eruption of Cerro Azul, casting lava some 10 kilometers (six miles). What could have been potentially harmful to a neighboring city and the islands' famed giant tortoises, luckily missed both.

In fact, the lava flowed along the same path it did during its last outbursts in 1978 and, 20 years later, in 1998.

But imagine if the Galapagos had not been so fortunate.

Luckily, this beautiful island cluster is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, a pseudo-reserve for some of the Galapagos' very exclusive, and very endangered, animalia.

The center is free to guests and features the islands' baby and giant tortoises. Other exhibits include a land iguana section and 'Lonely George', a somber name for the last remaining member of its species.

Whether you cross paths in the wild, on a Galapagos tour, or at the Charles Darwin Research Station, getting up close to an active volcano or a giant tortoise can be found only on the shore of this lush Ecuadorian utopia.

By: Jonathan Hunt
http://www.galapagos.com
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Making Your Summer Holidays In Crete Unforgettable 
Friday, May 23, 2008, 03:16 AM - Crete
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Making Your Summer Holidays In Crete Unforgettable. Travel Destinations.I must have traveled to Crete a hundred times; I go more frequently nowadays. Eventually I started to believe strongly that people like myself who love the place, deserve to look for a more permanent residence to stay for longer periods of time. At least getting a quality holiday house in Crete has become so inexpensive that can hardly be considered as financial risk.

I still haven't managed to see even half of Crete - it is a remarkable and complex combination of places, landscapes, people, customs, smells - what can I say? I have more than enough in me to share with others, and this is why I decided to write about it. All I ask from you is to keep an open mind, get a fully insured car, and decide to expand your eating and drinking habits (after all you will be visiting the World's capital of what is known as 'Mediterranean Diet').

Firstly, think seriously before packing your bags: do you deserve a good holiday? If yes, then: one, switch off your blackberry; two, don't sit next to a hotels swimming pool for two weeks pretending you are enjoying yourself with a drink in one hand and a paperback on the other. You didn't work hard for a year to deserve just this.

After landing, unpacking and taking a good sleep, prepare to expose yourself to the place and get the most out of it. Remember: you are safe, locals can help you anytime, thieves are practically non-existent, and you are an arm's length away from an English speaker.

Hit the road with your family on a daily basis leaving around 9am; make every day an excursion somewhere on the island, no matter where your location. Your hotel is for breakfast and sleep, for at least one week of your stay.

I recommend places like Vai in Sitia, Agia Fotia in Ierapetra, Ledas outside Heraklion, Falasserna outside Chania, Fodele and Panormo which are both close to Rethymno, and Skala village in Elounda. They all have beaches so take your umbrella, towels suntan lotions and plenty of water with you on every journey. Sunbathing on a beach is more effective than swimming pools: you get a glorious tan to keep for months to come. To be on the safe side, ask for the existence of jelly fish and wear plastic shoes when you walk inside the sea.

The other way of doing excursions is to join a safari group; ask your hotel for details. You will have a wonderful time, and you will be in a safer, more controlled environment with people guiding you, and people from your own group joining you. You will still see lots of places off the beaten track, and keep it all on a daily excursion mode.

You should eat at the local taverns; aim for the one that attracts most of the crowd. Open yourself to local food: try Dakos (wet rusk) small dolmadakia, fresh fish, oven food (like stuffed tomatoes and peppers), local pastries, and meat on the barbecue. Always have a salad on your table; ask for the local specialty. And always try the local sweets with honey and white sugar.

Except excursions, try and mix with the locals getting the most out of your journey. The unbeatable way of doing this is by sneaking into a local wedding; the best weddings take place on Saturdays at nearby villages. If you don't manage to get invited, just head for one uninvited in one evening of your first days, leaving it to pot luck. People will invite you on the spot, and it will be a unique opportunity to get acquainted, eat fantastic wedding food and get lots of tips for your stay. If you have thoughts about a more permanent stay, it will be good for you to start making contacts anyway; in Crete people are very social and you will soon discover the snowball effect that this will have on you.

Keep the last couple of days to ease off; it's time for swimming pool rest with plenty of reading, drinking and socializing with people from your group. Try to compare your experiences with theirs and see what difference this will make. I can definitely guarantee you that when you go back home you will talk about your holiday for the rest of the year. And maybe think of coming to stay in Crete for longer periods of time.

By: Kostandinos Papahatzis
Kostandinos Papahatzis works full time on real estate Crete finding homes to those who wish to stay longer and enjoy fuller, better and stress-free breaks in their lives. Learn more at:
http://www.crete-real-estate-property.com
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Discover Historic Bulgaria at the Heart of Europe 
Saturday, May 10, 2008, 11:47 PM - Bulgaria
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Discover Historic Bulgaria at the Heart of Europe. Travel DestinationsAs a recent entrant into the European Union, Bulgaria is slowly becoming better known and more widely explored as a result. It's a hugely historic country with an expansive and unspoiled coastline and fabulous winter sports resorts that embodies the best of eastern Europe and which is a thrilling destination for visitors.

If you're a city lover then Bulgaria won't disappoint either - it's capital city of Sofia is historically rich, culturally pure and a young, dynamic city at its heart now that it is benefiting from European Union entry and an increase in employment prospects for its citizens.

If you fly in to Sofia you can spend a few days exploring the city, enjoying the nightlife, discovering its majesty and really getting to know the Bulgarian people before you decide where you would like to expand your vacation.

If you arrive in the late autumn, in winter or early spring you can head to the dramatic and imposing Pirin mountains and visit resorts such as Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo and you will find excellent ski and snowboard conditions, affordable equipment hire and ski pass purchase prices as well as some fabulous powder and brilliant aprčs ski.

Alternatively, if you arrive in Bulgaria from May to September you will want to head for the Black Sea coastline where there are any number of perfectly pristine, Blue Flag beaches, where there are beautiful ancient fishing villages alongside vibrant new resorts such as Sunny Beach, and where you can have a fun time.

Along the coast there is so much for all the family to do and enjoy. There are theme parks and water parks, there are historic castles and museums to visit, there are beaches to comb, restaurants' fare to sample and many friendly and welcoming local people to make your stay a memorable one.

Because Bulgaria is in the European Union now its border rules have relaxed and its visa criteria have eased so that it is now not only easy to take a vacation in Bulgaria, it's possible for many people to take an extended holiday and live and even work in the nation.

If you're thinking about taking some time out and exploring Europe and you want to fund your adventures, why not contact your nation's Bulgarian embassy and determine whether or not you can live and work there for a period of time.

By: Rhiannon Davies
Rhiannon Davies writes about living and property in Bulgaria abroad, to read more about living and property in Bulgaria as well as visiting Bulgaria, check out her site ShelterOffshore.com
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The Beginning Of Discovery 
Tuesday, April 29, 2008, 02:41 AM - Costa Rica
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The Beginning Of Discovery. Travel DestinationsSeeing new and exotic things has always been the appeal of traveling. Yet traveling itself, although grown more convenient and reliable, has grown to become more costly. It would be prudent to settle into a locale where one still enjoys the joy of discovery without the burden of costly travel.

New cities and cultures will always be intriguing, but none can strike as much awe as the pure beauty of natural wonders. When it comes to natural wonders, nothing compares to a city nature itself has created.

When you mention rainforest, images of tall canopies above misty green expanses come to mind. Often, one of the first things you'll think of the mighty Amazon River that traverses through South America. Indeed the rainforest is host to a large number of flora and fauna. Yet the Amazon isn't the only place you can go to for a taste of natural beauty.

Home to a rich variety of plants and animals is Costa Rica. It may contain only 0.1% of the world's landmass, but in the 0.1% thrive 5% of the world's biodiversity - that's the greatest density of species in the world. That's quite a lot of wildlife for a country so small. This is because 25% of the nation is composed of protected forests and reserves. Even though Costa Rica is a small country, Costa Rica is famous for year-round adventure tourism and outdoor activities. And if you're a frequent visitor of the country, having your own Costa Rica real estate will allow you to lengthen your stay and enjoy these activities more.

Costa Rica has an area of 51,100 square kilometers (slightly larger than Switzerland), making it relatively quick to travel from point to point, not taking more than a couple of hours' travel. A visit to a couple of the country's national parks gives visitors unique wildlife experiences that can easily rival anything the Amazon can offer.

The Corcovado National Park is internationally-renowned among ecologists for its biodiversity. Visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife like big cats and tapirs, aside from engaging in eco-tourism activities like zip lines through the canopy, or even just an elevated walkway for the faint of heart.

With a name meaning "full of turtles," Tortuguero National Park also boasts of a wide variety of animals. Spider, howler and white-throated Capuchin monkeys, the three-toed sloth, 320 species of birds (including eight species of parrots) and a variety of reptiles all reside here. Of course, Tortuguero is more popularly known for its turtles. The endangered green turtle makes this park its annual nesting grounds, making this the most important nesting site for this species. Rare species like the giant leatherback, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles also nest here.

For those with a green thumb, there is the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This park hosts two thousand plant species, including numerous orchids. Over four hundred types of birds can be found here, and over one hundred species of mammals. As a whole, around eight hundred species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica.

Because of the area's sheer biological diversity, several pharmaceutical companies conduct extensive experiments on its plant life in hopes of finding new cures and remedies for modern ailments and diseases. Some scientists even speculate that a number of new species of plants and animals have yet to be discovered here. Who knows, you just might discover one yourself.

By: Jedd Sullivan
Costa Rica real estate
3 comments ( 167 views )
Auckland's Beautiful Backyard 
Monday, April 14, 2008, 12:07 AM - New Zealand
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Auckland's Beautiful Backyard. Travel DestinationsAuckland is a fantastic city. Its spectacular skyline glitters in the bay and its streets are filled with a breezy cosmopolitan air. But sometimes you need a break from the bright lights and bustle, and Auckland has the perfect solution. Twelve miles east of the city in the Hauraki Gulf lies Waiheke, a gorgeous green island dotted with sandy beaches, grassy meadows and eclectic homes.

The contrast is quite remarkable. Hop on a ferry from Auckland's busy port and half an hour later you pull up into Waiheke's quaint Putiki Bay. It's a whole world away from the city. There is a tangible feeling of community on Waiheke, but the regular influx of holidaymakers and city dwellers means that new faces are always made to feel welcome.

There is a definite bohemian vibe on the island. During the 1960s Waiheke was home to communities of artists and hippies. The majority have since moved on to the lesser-known Great Barrier Island further out in the bay, but their legacy lives on in the many painters' studios, craft shops and general artistic air.

Waiheke is about 20 kilometres long, and the climate is generally slightly warmer than Auckland's. Most of the island is uninhabited - all of the neighbourhoods and towns are situated towards the western end . The population is around 8000 but swells considerably during holiday seasons when Aucklanders and visitors from further afield flock to the island to enjoy the beach life and chilled-out atmosphere.

As well as the natural allure of sand and sea, Waiheke is popular for the regular dance parties held at Stonyridge Vineyard during the summer. The island plays host to a number of festivals including events dedicated to wine jazz, and these are definitely worth a look.

Wine is a huge part of island life. Waiheke is well known for its cabernet sauvignon which is famous throughout the world. There are over 20 vineyards containing around 300,000 vines. The Goldwater Estate is one of only two New Zealand vineyards to be named among the best in the world. Many vineyards offer tours and wine tasting events, and some have restaurants where guests can sample the local grape while enjoying scenic island views.

There is a range of accommodation available on the island ranging from backpacker hostels to luxury boutique villas. The island packs out during the summer months (November to February) so make sure you book well in advance to get the best rates.

By: Kris Barnes
For cheap flights to Auckland visit www.flightcomparison.co.uk

Flight Comparison specialises in finding cheap flights offered by leading online travel agencies. The site lists cheap air flights to Auckland from All Airports in the UK.
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United Kingdom Vacations 
Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 05:27 AM - United Kingdom
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United Kingdom Vacations. A travel destination information article.The United Kingdom of Great Britain consists of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The capital city of each is London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast respectively. The UK is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state, and parliamentary democracy. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the British Empire seemed to span the globe but since the two world wars it's power has decreased dramatically. Most of the countries of the British Empire have gained their independence but remain part of the British Commonwealth (which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand).

Today the United Kingdom is part of the European Union, though not fully integrated many of it's sovereign powers have been transferred to the European Parliament. However, if you are planning a vacation to Britain you should be aware that the Euro has not been yet been adopted and the national currency which remains the British Pound. The British Pound is fiercely defended by the British people who see it as a symbol of their nationality. Maybe this originates from the fact that the economy of the United Kingdom is somewhat dominated by service sector industries such as financial services, with a strong history in banking and insurance.

Tourism continues to be an important element of the British economy with nearly thirty million foreign visitors a year. The UK is ranked as one of the top tourist destinations in the world (about sixth) with a massive selection of varied tourist attractions. Many tourists are attracted to the historic attractions, such as the many castles, with the Royal Family providing much of the pomp and ceremony that remains in popular demand. Most of the most famous landmarks and attractions are to be found in London, such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and London Zoo.

Scotland is extremely popular with tourists who flock to Edinburgh to visit Edinburgh Castle or one of the many festivals which are held throughout the year. Other popular vacation destinations in Scotland include the city of Glasgow, Stirling (popular for the historically important Stirling Castle) Pitlochry and other towns of the Highlands such as Inverness (now a city) and Fort William. The more adventurous tourists take their vacation in the Highlands and Islands with the Inner and Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland being some of the remotest parts of the United Kingdom.

Wales is a predominantly rural nation with a number of fine castles and other historic tourist attractions. The capital city, Cardiff, is both an ancient town and young city, thoroughly modern in it's outlook. Cardiff, a city for around 100 years, has a castle which is claimed to be about 2,000 years old which is well worth a visit. The modern Millennium Stadium and the Wales Millennium Centre are some of the most recent attractions and are venues for some spectacular events. The Doctor Who Exhibition is of great interest to fans of the BBC show (filmed mainly in the city) and they will please to hear that the center is the number one attraction at the moment.

Northern Ireland is recovering quickly from the 'troubles' and is very quickly growing in popularity as a vacation destination. For many years there was conflict between those who wanted the region to be returned to the Irish nation and those who wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom. Today it is peaceful and places such as Carrickfergus Castle, Ireland's finest Medieval castle, and numerous beaches such as Portrush Whiterocks Beach proving extremely popular with tourists.

Of all the vacation destinations in the United Kingdom England attracts most visitors. As mentioned London is the most popular tourist destination but places like Blackpool prove very popular with younger visitors. The Blackpool lights, Blackpool tower complex, the pleasure beach and fun fair make for a lively and enjoyable vacation and Blackpool hotels and bed and breakfasts seem to dominate the areas closest to the sea. Other seaside towns such as nearby Southport and Morecambe provide a quieter vacation destination while remaining within easy reach of many interesting tourist attractions.

Whatever your requirements for a vacation the United Kingdom of Great Britain can provide you with your ideal break. Look around online and discover Britain, you are guaranteed to have a most enjoyable time.

By: Andrew M Kelly
Andrew Kelly writes for a number of UK travel sites. As well as writing about his main interest of staying in hotels in Scotland (where he now lives) he also writes about hotels in England whenever he gets a chance to visit.
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