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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Amsterdam
May 3, 2015 1:52 PM

Did you know that there are more canals in Amsterdam than there are in Venice, Italy? These 400 year old waterways are spread throughout the majority of the city giving it a unique appearance. When you're ready to head out to this enticing city, devise a plan to help you get more out of the experience.

Finding Deals

By looking online, you can find all kinds of deals and packages pertaining to finding Amsterdam hotels and flights. This can help you plan for the vacation while reducing what you'll spend in lodging. You'll have more money to put towards the fun aspects of the city without worrying about sleeping arrangements.

Create a Budget Plan

Although not everyone relishes the idea of creating a budget for the vacation, it can help you stretch the money further. This can help you experience more of Amsterdam without tapping the bank accounts dry too early in your stay. Separate what aspects of the trip will need and maintain the budget once you arrive.

Separate Your Money

When visiting any location, you should never have all of your money sitting in a single account. Not only does this prevent the criminal element from exhausting all of your funds should your debit or credit cards get stolen, but it can help you keep track of what accounts are used for which activities. For example, use one payment method for lodging and a secondary for entertainment. This way, you can prevent accidentally spending the money for room and board on souvenirs.

Research Events in Amsterdam

Most cities have a schedule throughout the year of various events that are planned. By researching Amsterdam online, you can find out when these events are being held and perhaps plan your vacation around the date. Cultural events are one of the best methods for immersing oneself in a new location while learning more about the people of an area. It's also a great way to get involved with some of the most engaging parties in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam has an incredible amount of local and world history tied into the location. It's an ancient city with an attraction for many whether you're visiting for the beer or planning a European getaway. Before you begin booking flights and hotel rooms, build a strategy for visiting this great city. Sticking to a strict budget can help you explore more of Amsterdam while giving you more spending money as you explore.

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Get lost in history – Road-tripping The Forgotten World Highway
May 2, 2014 5:21 PM

Acting on the recommendation of one of my long-time travel buddies, I recently took a welcome break from work to spontaneously round up some friends and hit the road in search of the adventure that I’ve been told is right on our door step. We certainly found it on our weekend road tour out of Wellington heading north. One road has stuck in my mind ever since - The Forgotten World Highway.

Get lost in history – Road-tripping The Forgotten World Highway

Having lived most of our lives in the city we don’t own cars and so the first step was to find a decent car hire firm. We went with to be on the safe side as their cars are not only affordable but also obviously well maintained.

The Forgotten World Highway stretches out its wriggling path between Stratford and Taumarunui, over hills, through mountains and into valleys.  After pootling along on some fairly dull and boring roads prior to hitting the FWH, the dramatic scenery blessing this particular motoring haven was welcome stimulation in itself.

Although we had heard of this tourist spot previously, we had no idea of the importance the route and its settlements had in the history of the region. The Forgotten World Highway is a real national treasure as along its path visitors are able to drive into, or rather through, the past. 

Approaching from Stratford, our first stop had a name just as mythically evocative as the highway itself. At ‘The Bridge to Somewhere you will be treated, as we were, to a beautiful scene of serenity with an historic bridge, built in 1937, as the centre piece. The bridge crosses the Whangamōmona River and presents a great opportunity for photography whilst giving stoic testament to the labour of early European settlers as they engineered ways to traverse the dynamic landscape - a perfect introduction to the FWP’s next drive-through history lesson: the near-ghost town of Whangamōmona, which lay just a little further on up the road.

Feeling altogether creepy and deserted, Whangamōmona feeds the imagination with images of the past. Further investigation on our short stroll around the town found that there is, indeed, human life still there and the best way to meet with the friendly locals is to take a coffee ‘n’ cake break at one of the 19th Century hotels, which still stand proudly Today in the town’s centre.

After refreshment however, our thirst for knowledge was growing even more impatient. Several locals recommended a stop by the abandoned coal mining village on route to the Nukunuku Museum which could be found a few more miles along the road.

Get lost in history – Road-tripping The Forgotten World Highway

It has to be said, at least for those with an interest in the history of the area and of NZ for that matter, The Forgotten World Highway is a definite ‘must-do’. Put it on your bucket list, write it on the calendar, make time for it. It’s scenery of forests and volcanoes, abandoned tunnels and cinematic water falls, along with its historical relics will leave you feeling satisfied and stimulated.

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Life Goes On — Cuba After Castro
April 22, 2014 7:25 PM

Cuba might boast beaches, mountain ranges and vibrant cities, but these remarkable delights haven’t always been accessible for visitors. During periods of austerity under communist revolutionary Fidel Castro, Cuba struggled to attract holidaymakers. Tourism plummeted. 

Thankfully, the island has opened the gates back up for many tourists to enjoy Cuba holidays. Today, Cuba still displays evidence of its diverse heritage, cultural charm and all the characteristics you could ever want from an eye-opening getaway in the sun.

Cuba under the microscope
References or reminders of the 1959 socialist revolution are evident in nearly every corner of this former Spanish colony. In many respects, though, time has stood still on the island ever since Castro took charge while the rest of the world looked on.

Despite corruption and over-exuberance from the Government and the effects on certain run down areas, Cuba has managed to survive unlike other Communist-bloc nations. This means that perfectly preserved colonial towns, vintage American cars, and beautiful historical palaces are still very much in existence.

While opinions over Castro’s influence remain divided, the Cuban people are far from bitter or aggrieved, even though the country’s infrastructure and political system seemed to collapse around them. Now the sound and rhythm of salsa music along with African, European and Caribbean cultures and cuisine is what matters most.

Don’t leave without seeing…

The Malecón
Stretching for 8 kilometers along the coast of Havana, the Malecón is an ocean-side boulevard that sums up Cuba nicely. While watching the sun go down, the city’s creative individuals gather in front of a mixture of neoclassic and art nouveau buildings.

Although some of the thoroughfare’s incredible architecture is facing the threat of erosion from the ocean, the City Historian’s Office have given 14 blocks of the Malecón special status, so the most authentic area of Havana will be preserved.

Museo de la Revolución
Situated in a former palace, which used to be the home of several corrupt Cuban presidents, Museo de la Revolución showcases just how hard the natives worked to gain sovereignty. From the outside, this neoclassical building is truly breathtaking, but the Tiffany’s of New York decorated interior and the Palace of Versailles-inspired Room of Mirrors are equally as impressive.

Notable exhibits include the life of Che Guevara, a piece of the former city wall and lots of propaganda posters, blood-stained military uniforms and official documents. The centerpiece of the museum, however, has to be the Pavillón Granma memorial, which displays the yacht Fidel Castro and 81 revolutionaries made their way to Cuba in from Tuxpán, Mexico in December 1956.

Although public attention has usually focused on Cuba’s political situation, the ongoing yet stationary revolution and people’s enduring passion means this country provides a historic and cultural playground for tourists.

/Guest Post

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Australian Road Trip Tips
January 22, 2014 7:21 PM

Where epic road trips are concerned, Australia is difficult to top. Long open roads await, with spectacular cities and scenery to admire along the way, from vast red desert to deserted idyllic beaches of white sand and azure-blue water, and international cosmopolitan cities to traditional Outback towns.

Australia is an enormous country, so the options for road trips are endless. There’s advice on the official Australia tourism website here, and to help those completely lost by all the choice, here are four of the best:

The Great Ocean Road, Victoria

This self-drive route is perfect for those who don’t have much time, as it’s very close to Melbourne, one of the country’s major travel hubs. This route follows the incredible road that winds its way around the dramatic cliffs of Victoria’s coast, with rugged rock formations like the 12 Apostles and London Bridge en route. The road can be covered in a couple of days, depending on how long you want to stay in the pleasant seaside towns along the way.

Uluru, Northern Territory

The ultimate Aussie icon, Uluru – formerly Ayer’s Rock – is a sacred site to the native Aboriginals and is a truly awesome visual. Driving from King’s Canyon to Uluru will afford travellers with a sense of the wilderness of the Australian Outback without being too far from Australia’s most central city Alice Springs. A 4x4 is a necessity.   

Indian Ocean Drive, Western Australia

The west coast is one of the most beautiful stretches of shore in the country, so well-worth the extra travel time. The new Indian Ocean Drive makes a day-trip up the coast from Perth, Western Australia’s main city, an easy journey – those with more time can continue up the coast for a real adventure.  

Grand Pacific Drive, New South Wales

Another coastal route, this road features the amazing 665-metre cantilever bridge that reaches 50 metres out to sea from the steep cliffs. Along the route there are seaside towns, surfing beaches and the Royal National Park, meaning travellers can make as many stops as they like along the way.
Of course there are countless other driving routes, including off-the-beaten-track journeys in the north of tropical Queensland, and fertile scenery along the roads of the southernmost state of Tasmania. Whatever journey you choose to undertake, there are practicalities to consider:

  • Choose your vehicle: Be sensible when it comes to selecting your means of transport – many areas of Australia demand a 4x4, so do your research before you go. For shorter road trips along well-maintained roads, an iconic vehicle could make it a journey to remember – for example, if you have your biker’s license, check out Harley Davidson sales that might just convince you to unleash your inner Hell’s Angel!

  • Be safe: Many road trippers who are unfamiliar with Australian terrain forget to take the necessary precautions. If heading into the Outback, carry lots of water and extra fuel – it’s possible to drive for hours without spotting any signs of life. Those long, empty stretches of road make for tiring driving conditions, so you’ll need at least a couple of insured drivers in the car. If you’re alone, make sure you pull over in a safe place for some rest if you feel your eyelids begin to droop.

  • Climate change: If heading into the mountains in Victoria or New South Wales, remember that the temperature can drop dramatically, so bring a few extra layers.

  • Cover yourself: Insurance is a must on any road trip, so read the small print and make sure you’re fully covered for all eventualities. 

/Guest Post

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Vegas In The Wintertime
December 26, 2013 1:52 PM

Usually Las Vegas, Nevada brings to mind bright lights, palm trees, and hot nightlife. So what is there to do in Vegas in the wintertime?  The answer is… plenty! The winter months mark one of the most exciting times of the year to visit Vegas. In fact, there’s so much to do, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Ice-Skating and Winter Wonderland

Vegas In The Wintertime Vegas In The Wintertime

Take a look at any one of several premier resorts. The Palazzo and the Venetian kicked off the season by setting up a brightly lit holiday tree paired with (imitation) ice-skating on the Strip. “Winter in Venice” began in November and will continue on through to the beginning of January. The Cosmopolitan also provides ice skating; the Boulevard Pool at the resort is transformed to an ice rink (with real ice) and remains opened through the beginning of January. The Bellagio’s Conservatory and the Botanical Gardens are all about Winter Wonderland magic, all but guaranteed to warm up even the coldest nights (if that’s possible in LV)! A festive tree adds to the holiday cheer, ablaze with thousands of twinkling lights and brightly coloured ornaments. Bellagio’s Winter Wonderland is open to the public and welcomes all into a delightfully delicious gingerbread village created by Bellagio’s very own pastry team.

Casinos, Gambling, and Nightlife

Las Vegas is home to some of the world’s most spectacular resorts. When winter rolls in the casinos really warm up. The Luxor, Excalibur, Aria at City Center, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Treasure Island, Flamingo, New York - New York, Circus Circus, Stratosphere, Bally's, Planet Hollywood, Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino, Wynn Las Vegas, Riviera, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, The Quad Resort & Casino, Golden Nugget LVH-Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and the Mirage are some of the better known resorts in Vegas. Most of the larger hotels are all inclusive. It’s possible to enjoy everything from indoor swimming and spa treatments to late night shows and entertainment. Luxurious hotel rooms and suites may entice you to curl up and play games at NordicBet in a king-size bed. Then when you’re ready to venture out, the restaurants in Vegas offer every type of cuisine imaginable, and many are moderately priced. Just remember, for winter-time fun, casino gambling is second to none!

Hiking and Sight-Seeing

If you enjoy a quieter atmosphere, you might want to visit some of the neighboring parks and recreational areas… most stay open year round. While the Northern Rim of the Grand Canyon closes during the winter, many campgrounds in Zion National Park, the Great Basin, and Grand Canyon's Southern Rim remain open. Bus, plane, and train travel provides an alternative to car travel. Additional activities include snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and skating.
From winter-wonderland ice-skating to cross-country skiing, Las Vegas has something for everyone. Just remember to bring your jacket… those hot nights in Vegas can be a little windy and cold when you step out onto the Strip!

/Guest Post

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Travel Talk
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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Amsterdam
Get lost in history Road-tripping The Forgotten World Highway
Life Goes On Cuba After Castro
Australian Road Trip Tips
Vegas In The Wintertime
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