My brother and sister-in-law had taken the next day off and we were planning an excursion further afield: our destination was a mountain peak called Mangart in Slovenia, located about a three-hour drive from my home town. The beauty of Central Europe is its diversity of landscapes and its small distances, and in just a few hours of driving through the Austrian province of Carinthia we arrived in Val Canale, an area where Austria, Italy and Slovenia meet. Incidentally this is also the only area where the Germanic, Romance and Slavic language families come together right next to one another. We passed by the picturesque Predil Lake and continued our climb into the high mountains and crossed the Italian border into Slovenia.But as it can be with the best laid plans of mice and men, our hiking trip to the Mangart Mountain was not to be: our car overheated and there was no way we were going to make it any further. We had to stop, let the car cool down and turn around to go back down the mountain. Fortunately, our disappointment did not last long since we came up with an alternate plan: we took the cable car up to Monte Lussari whose summit area features a tiny mountain village with a small pilgrimage church. An absolutely stunning 360 degree mountain vista opens up from the top of this mountain and we enjoyed a hearty lunch on the balcony of a rustic restaurant, taking in the phenomenal Alpine panorama.On our way home we stopped in the town of Tarvisio, a border town that has benefited for a long time from the traffic between Austria, Slovenia and Italy. We stopped at the market, my brother picked up a few Italian delicatessen and we enjoyed our stroll through town. After our return in the late afternoon I embarked on a little local excursion and drove to the Teichalm Sommeralm area close to my home town.This region is now marketed as the Almenland, which literally means Alpine meadow country. The Tourism Region Sommeralm -Teichalm represents the largest contiguous high-altitude alpine meadow area in Europe. It features a lake, many hiking trails, ski lifts and phenomenal views into the surrounding countryside. In addition, the area is used as grazing pastures for hundreds of Alpine oxen, animals whose tender and tasty meat is prized highly by chefs and restaurant owners throughout the entire area.Poor weather returned on Friday, so I spent a quiet day making visits to acquaintances and doing errands. The highlight of the day was a classical concert organized by the local Weiz Lions Club: a charity concert and fundraiser that featured musicians and an orchestra from AIMS, the American Institute of Musical Studies, a Graz-based organization that offers intense summer vocal, piano and music programs to international students, most of whom come from the United States.We listened to pieces by Mozart, Strauss and Verdi and were thoroughly impressed by the young sopranos, tenors and musicians who put on an outstanding performance. The event even raised 15,000 Euros for the local charity. I interviewed several of the young music students after the concert and they were thoroughly enjoying their international exchange program and sure to return home with memories of a lifetime.Finally, the sun had returned and my second last day in Austria was going to be gorgeous. My second photo safari through my home town resulted in several encounters with acquaintances whom I had not seen for more than 20 years. Old memories were stirred up even more when I connected with my school friends Klaudia and Doris. During our walk up to the local Weizberg we also had a celebrity connection: Arnold Schwarzeneggers mother, father and brother are buried in the Weiz cemetery. His parents lived in this town for many years, and his father was a local police officer.Of course we reminisced about our high school adventures and after a scrumptious garden lunch we went to go hiking on the nearby Schckel mountain. The Schckel is the largest mountain in the region around Weiz and provides a phenomenal 360 degree panorama over the entire region. Southerly views extend into the Slovenian and Hungarian plains, and northerly vistas feature the high Alpine peaks of Northern Styria. To the east and to the west the scenic Styrian hill country opens up. The three of us climbed up the steepest portion of the mountain, securely equipped with our Nordic walking poles. Several restaurants offer refreshments and hearty Austrian food at the summit area, and high-speed excitement is provided by the summer tobogganing track that runs down the mountain, a nice adrenaline kick I just had to experience.After our hike back down we stopped off at Doris house, a beautiful property in the countryside, that features a brand new pond and large garden. Doris even equipped us with delicious freshly picked peaches from her fathers orchards. Klaudia and I headed back to Weiz and an hour later we met up again for a backyard barbeque at my brothers place. Klaudias entire family, her sister Andrea with daughters Nina and Katja as well as the two grandparents joined us for a delicious dinner that showcased my brothers culinary skills in a multi-course feast.My last full day in Austria had arrived and Ewald and Anneliese had planned a special outing: an excursion to one of Austrias most famous fortresses the Riegersburg. In existence for more than 850 years and located in the border region of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, this impressive fortification has withstood many attacks from the east and was never conquered. It has often been referred to as the strongest fortification of Christianity, having successfully defended repeated attacks by Turks and Magyars.With its numerous fortified gates, its unique location on an extinct volcanic cone, its extensive defensive walls, wooden drawbridges and moats, the Riegersburg is an authentic medieval fortress that has seen architectural additions from the Renaissance and Baroque eras. An exhibition in the fortress explains the historic era of the 16th and 17th century and sheds light on feudalism as well as two fascinating female characters who inhabited this fortress more than four centuries ago: Baroness von Galler and the flower witch Katharina Paldauf.Our East Styrian tour continued through volcano country with a drive to Schloss Kapfenstein, another medieval fortress that has been expanded into a castle and today holds an upscale restaurant and hotel. This castle is also located on the extinct cone of a former volcano. We enjoyed a tasty lunch in the outdoor patio of the castle, against the gorgeous backdrop of the distant Carinthian and Slovenian Mountains.My last evening in Austria was capped off with a visit to our friends Luis and Isabella, and all five of us enjoyed the late evening sun in their beautiful backyard. Luis even took me on a little motor scooter adventure around town. Back at Ewalds place we spent a few more hours reminiscing until I had to pack my bags for my departure to the airport in Vienna Monday morning.These nine days have been one of the most wonderful travel experiences in my life. They were greatly enhanced by my connections with family and friends, but in addition, my eyes were truly opened to travel opportunities in my birth region of Austria.Styria, with its medieval cities, imposing churches, monasteries and fortresses offers a great variety of destinations to history and architecture lovers. Music, visual and performing arts are ever present, even in small communities. Outdoor lovers will find a whole smorgasbord of activities, from hiking to mountain biking, skiing, horseback riding, mountaineering, hang-gliding, river rafting and many other varied pastimes.The diverse landscapes featuring fertile plains, rolling hills full of orchards and vineyards, high Alpine peaks and meadows, pristine rivers and scenic lakes enchant at every corner. And food, wine and beer lovers will definitely enjoy the diverse culinary offerings. In addition, Styria offers affordable prices and great value to international travelers. I realized my birth region is right up there at the top of any destinations I have visited in the last few years.This trip truly opened my eyes to the astounding beauty and variety of the area where I was born, and even though Styria might not be as well known as other regions of Austria, my nine days back home were far too short and I already have a whole list of things to do and see next time I am over in the old country.
Looking for a South Pacific Island Beach Resort that is situated in an impossibly beautiful place, then look no further than the Hotel Paradis DOuvea which is situated on the island of Ouvea in the Loyalty Islands Group in New Caledonia.To get a picture of what a Pacific Ocean paradise is like, just imagine a 30 mile long blue lagoon with only one hotel sitting on a white sand beach, and you have the beach virtually all to yourself.The four star Paradis DOuvre is the only quality hotel in the Loyalty Islands, which are a group of four islands a short flight away from the Capital of New Caledonia to the north. It has 15 cottages type villas, and ten of them are on the beach, whilst four of the others which have two bedrooms are further back, with only one family style cottage is on the beach.The accommodation is spacious and perfectly adequately furnished, with large verandahs, but it is important to remember that Ouvea is a remote South West Pacific Island and so standards cannot be compared to say Europe.Ouvea is very much a place for a South Pacific Honeymoon or a romantic getaway, because there really is nothing to do here.You will take long walks along absolutely deserted beaches, and of course go swimming in just about the most perfect blue-turquoise-azure sea you will ever see in your life. Then there is snorkelling, and reading all the books you never have time to read at home, or just having quality time with the person you most want to have quality time with, whilst pretending you are Robinson Cruso!!October is probably a good time to go, being at the end of the cooler time, and outside the tropical cyclone period.Remoteness and beauty such as you will find on Ouvea does come at a price, and not just the cost of getting here which is expensive anyway. An apparent Pacific Ocean paradise is the ultimate romantic getaway, but you should be aware of some of the following challenges.The main difficulty anywhere in New Caledonia is in regards to food and drink, and the same holds true at Paradis DOuvea. There is no room service, the mini bar is barely adequate, and if you are hungry between meals, then it is very difficult to get snacks, or drink outside happy hour.If you were able to get your hands on a member of staff at these times, then they would almost certainly oblige you, but that seems to be difficult.Whilst one of the joys of a remote Pacific Island like Ouvea is the remoteness of it, this also means there are no shops nearby to supplement your rations, but of course it is just this remoteness that appeals to some.The restaurant at the Paradis DOuvea is good by Pacific beach resort standards, and the food is well prepared and presented, but there are only about four choices of main course on the dinner menu. As the recommendation would be that you visit The Paradis DOuvea as part of an overall tour of the area, then you might stay here for three or four nights, so the lack of choice on the menu wont be a problem. You can eat at the Gazebo on the beach under the stars for a real romantic dinner.There is a swimming pool, but with the incredible beach location of the hotel, you wont be using it much.Be aware that there is a huge number of Japanese honeymooners here during the week and local French people at the weekends. In fact the first language of the website is Japanese.Having said all that, even with the slight drawbacks, if you are looking for an idyllic Pacific Island, Lagoon, endless white sand beach for your getaway, then the Paradis DOuvea will more than fit the bill.For more information about Pacific Ocean Hideaways go to http://www.worldwidevacationspots.com/categories/Pacific-Ocean-Hideways/
When it comes to vacations, include Oahu vacations, there are many vacationers who go right out and book a stay at a popular hotel or vacation resort. As nice as it is to stay at a well-known hotel or resort, did you know that there is more? If you are planning on visiting Oahu this year or even next, before you book a stay at a local hotel or resort, you are urged to give Oahu vacation rentals some though. After a close examination, you will likely be pleased with your decision to do so.With Oahu vacation rental, one of the most commonly asked questions is why. Many vacationers want to know what is so special about Oahu vacation rentals. In all honestly, it depends. Oahu vacation rentals are available all across the island. Each vacation rental is unique in its own right. That is why if you are interested in spending your next Oahu vacation at a vacation home, you are advised to choose your vacation rental carefully. The vacation rental that you end up choosing will, literally, make all of the difference in the world.Since the Oahu vacation rental you choose will have a direct impact on the outcome of your vacation, you may be wondering how you should go about choosing the perfect vacation home. The first step in doing so is to determine what you want or need to get out of your Hawaiian vacation. For instance, if you are looking for privacy and seclusion, you may want to rent an Oahu vacation home that is somewhat scheduled and away from popular vacation destinations. Also, if you are looking to spend your vacation resting along the cost, you may want to try and find a beachfront Oahu vacation rental, and so on. Once you have determined exactly what you want, it will be easier to choose the Oahu vacation rental of your dreams.As previously mentioned, Oahu vacation rentals are scattered all across the island. If you are planning on visiting a particular part of the island, it may be best to rent a vacation rental in that area. Doing so will limit the amount of unnecessary travel arrangements that you will have to make. In fact, whether you are booking your own reservations online or using the assistance of a travel agent, having an idea of where you would like to stay, city or town wise, is the best way to save time. Tailoring your search to the exact area of Oahu that you would like to visit would likely automatically eliminate vacation rentals that would not be of interest to you.As nice as it is to get what you want on vacation, you will also want to make sure that you get what you need. For instance, if you are traveling with a large group of individuals, whether or not they be your family, you will need to find an Oahu vacation rental that can accommodate your traveling party. When searching for an Oahu vacation home online or with the assistance of a travel agent, the number of bedrooms that you need is extremely important. Having this number will not only save you time, but help to make sure that your Oahu vacation rental can accommodate you and all of your guests.In addition to the amount of space that you will need, it is also important to examine what you will need to do while on vacation. For instance, if you are taking an extended Oahu vacation, there is a good chance that you will need to cook your own meals or wash your clothes. Although most Oahu vacation rentals do come with a full kitchen and a laundry room, it might be best to make sure first. If you need anything else, such as a garage or access to public transportation, you will want to keep that in mind. Doing so will not only make it easier to choose an Oahu vacation rental, but it will also likely improve the outcome of your vacation.Oahu vacations are highly sought after because of the excitement that they bring. By keeping the above mentioned points in mind, you should easily be able to book the Oahu vacation rental of your dreams; a vacation rental that may help to get your vacation off to a good start.
London, the capital city of England and the United Kingdom, with its rich history, aesthetic architecture and dynamic, multicultural present is a poets refuge, a shoppers paradise and a lovers dream. Albeit, one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, it has something to fulfill everyones taste and theres little wonder as to why every soul should visit this constantly evolving and astounding city to visit at least once in lifetime.While most people would think that a luxurious city like London would have few accommodation options for those with a slightly less budget, the truth is far from that. There are a variety of hotels, apartments and hostels that one can choose depending on their pocket size and tastes.Among the swanky hotels are Blakes Hotel, Cadogan Hotel, The Lanesborough, The Ritz, The Savoy Hotel, The Regency and Claridges. Each of these guarantee a quintessentially English experience rich in history with subtle touches of modernity. With stunning dcor and flawless service, each promises to make your stay unique, memorable and magical.For those who cannot afford a royaltys lifestyle, there are hotels that offer an unforgettable experience at a more affordable price. These hotels include, The Gore, The Beaufort Hotel, The Zetter, The Ibis Hotel and The Hampstead Guest House.However, if these hotels do not cut the deal for you, more wallet friendly options include The Mayflower Hotel, Fullers Hotel, Reubens At The Palace, The Arriva Hotel and Hotel 167. You could also stay in one of the many hostels offering dorm rooms for extremely affordable prices. Ashlee House, Holland House Youth Hostel and Wake Up! London are just a few of them.One of the key tourist destinations in the world, London is full of world famous landmarks, museums, shopping streets, theatres and restaurants. To truly enjoy this majestic city and its wonders, one not only needs plenty of money but ample time as well!No trip to London is complete without visiting the Buckingham Palace. Sadly, it is open to the general public only from July to September. It is however completely worth the wait. The public are allowed access to the Queens Gallery and the 19 State Rooms including the Throne Room and the Ballroom. The queens private apartments, swimming pool and garden are unfortunately off limits. The Westminster Abbey is one of Britains finest gothic buildings. It has played host to coronations, funerals and marriages of British monarchs and is a must see tourist location. Other architectural landmarks that you cannot miss are The Clock Tower also called the Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, St. Pauls Cathedral and The London Eye, the worlds largest observation wheel which allows you to view the city in all its glory.London is full of museums and art galleries including The British Museum which exhibits works from across nations and time, The National Gallery which houses one of the greatest collections of European paintings, The Tate Modern which houses modern art, The Science Museum which is dedicated to the scientific developments of the past 300 odd years or so and of course Madame Tussauds, the worlds largest wax museum housing wax statues of prominent personalities from across the world.London offers one of the best shopping experiences in the world. One can choose from the 2km long Oxford Street which is probably Londons busiest shopping area to Regent Street to the more upscale Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Chelsea area. Harrods and Harvey Nichols are undoubtedly the most popular departmental stores here, Soho the area to shop in for music related products and New Bond Street for designer clothes and other expensive items. London is also world famous for its markets, where people go not only to find rare, genuine bargains but also just for the experience. Camden Passage, Chapel Market, Leather Lane Market and Portobello Road Market are just a few of the many markets that this city is filled with.After a day full of exhausting sight-seeing and shopping, you need some rest and one of the best ways to do this is to party in one of Londons many clubs and bars including Fabric, Turnmills, 93 Feet East and Cargo. But if partying is not your style, you could spend your evening watching a performance in one of Londons many theatres or laugh your guts out in one of the many comedy clubs here or simply enjoy a quiet meal in one of the restaurants across town.London truly offers a multifaceted experience. Its streets merge the past and the present into a beautiful, rich fusion. Vibrant, exciting and beautiful, London is THE place to be.
The city of Las Vegas, Nevada is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world and it has held that distinction for many years. This is a city that truly never sleeps and it is an eternal delight to the tourists who flock there to enjoy it's amazing huge casinos along with it's more family friendly attractions.The city is situated in the deserts of Nevada not that far from Los Angeles, California. It is an attractive tourist spot for many reasons. Along with the 24 hours a day gambling in America's biggest casinos, there are exciting shows and exhibits to see which are suitable for the whole family.Among the fantastic shows that you can see in Vegas is the magic show of David Copperfield at the Mirage Hotel. You can also opt to visit an exhibit about the life of rock n roll legend Elvis Presley.You'll want to spend time wandering up and down the famous Las Vegas strip which has so much going on that it can be overwhelming at times. The electricity and energy pulsating through this city is incredible!Of course the biggest thing that Vegas is known for is it's casinos. Vegas is a gambler's paradise. Many people love to visit the city of Las Vegas because they can gamble. They have dreams of "hitting it big" and winning a fortune! While this dream doesn't come true for most, the attempt can be quite thrilling.Music is another exciting feature of this city that is like no other in the world. Famous singers such as Celine Dion and Elton John frequently perform in Vegas.Of course the biggest musical related show in Las Vegas is The Beatles themed Cirque de Soleil: Love. This amazing show combines the theatrics of Cirque de Soleil with the timeless music of The Beatles. If you already have the Love CD then you'll have some idea of what to expect as far as the revisualization of The Beatles music. If you haven't heard the Love CD then it's highly recommend that you purchase it now.The hotels in Las Vegas are among the most luxurious in the world and almost all of the hotels in Vegas have a huge casino inside! You can have an incredible time in Vegas without ever leaving your hotel! Among the incredible luxury hotels in Vegas is the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel which is located on the aptly named Paradise Road.Even the Super 8 Motel in Las Vegas is exciting! The Super 8 in Vegas is the biggest Super 8 in the whole world and it includes a pool which you have 24 hour access to. And while it is one of the few Vegas hotels without a casino inside, it does have a casino right next door.If you want to stay at the largest casino on the Las Vegas strip then you should stay at the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel which has over 45,000 square feet of casino space.Almost anywhere you stay in Vegas will be a great selection because everything is more luxurious and exciting in Las Vegas.