It goes without saying that memories of trips and vacations fade with time. If you learn how to keep a travel journal, this need not be the case.Traveling tends to be a schizophrenic event. On one hand, there is the trip you intended to take and may have even organized down to the tiniest detail. Then there is reality. Reality, of course, is what really happens as you head perpendicular to your original travel plans. It is these changes that provide the unique fodder to your trip that you’ll want to remember for years. This is where keeping a travel journal become invaluable.Travel JournalsKeeping a travel journal is a simple task and worth its weight in gold. It is a given that you will forget funny little events as the years pass. I’ve lived and/or traveled in over 40 countries and forgotten more than I care to admit, which is how NomadJournals.com came into being. There is nothing worse than reminiscing with a friend and not remembering what the heck they are talking about. This need not be the case.The good news is keeping a travel journal is a simple task. First you’ll need something to write in such as our Nomad Journals. Once you have it, the key is not so much what you write, but when you write it.When traveling, there is more down time than any of us would like to admit. Sitting in airports, bus station and hotels gives you plenty of time to write. An ideal time is just before hitting the sack as you have a quit moment to reflect on the good, the bad and the funny snippets of the day. Since everyday holds interesting little adventures, try to write at least once ever two days.The writing itself need not be complicated. You are writing the journal for YOURSELF. Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar and so on. If you want to write paragraphs, then write paragraphs. If you want to just keep notes, then just keep notes. If you want to doodle, for the love of God go ahead and doodle. You will not be graded!Although you are writing for yourself, there is one bit of information you should always write down. When you meet people while traveling, you tend to write down names, phone numbers and email addresses on thing such as napkins, maps and brochures. Much like socks in a dryer, these will mysterious disappear during your trip. If you keep a travel journal, you will be able to FIND the information when you return from you trip. Just whip open your travel journal, find the email address and you’ll have a friend for life.Keeping a travel journal is incredibly simple. You just write whatever you want. As time passes, you’ll be happy you did.
Like many cities in India, Delhi is packed to the gills with people. Delhi is unique, however, because it mixes the old with the new.New DelhiIf you fly into Delhi, you will inevitably end up in New Delhi. This section of the city is very modern in relation to the rest of the country. Roads are wide and organized with something other than a chaos theme. You’ll actually be able to walk without feeling like a cow in a heard, which is very unique in India. On the other hand, New Delhi just doesn’t have that ancient Indian charm found in other cities. It’s a good place to get a hotel room, but you’ll need to venture into the city proper to get a taste of India.Old DelhiOld Delhi is where the action is if you really want to experience India. The streets are a chaotic mass of markets, overbuilt streets, signage that would make Las Vegas blush and monuments to the past. The best way to see Old Delhi is to catch an auto rickshaw to the Red Fort and then just start wandering around the bazaars and old markets. Hotels will try to rent you mopeds, but this isn’t advisable if you’re hitting Old Delhi. The chaos will overwhelm you and you definitely don’t want to run into a sacred cow.Things to SeeRegardless of where you head, Delhi has a plenty of attractions to keep you busy for a few weeks. The great pacifist, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated in Delhi and you can visit the location at Birla House as well as pay your respect at his black marble tomb. To contemplate this great man, you can follow up the visit with a stroll through the Lodi Gardens, which are peacefully overgrown.Delhi is the home to forts, mosques and palaces galore. The Qutab Minor Complex is a good place to see Mughal architecture. Safdarjang’s Tomb is a poor mans Taj Mahal with the same basic structure. The Red Fort and India Gate are good places to take pictures.When it comes to sports, India is mad about cricket. Kids can be seen playing it all over the place. If you’re looking to see the professionals, try the games at Coronation Dunbar.Delhi is undoubtedly the most comfortable of the large cities in India. This comfort, however, comes with a price. One tends to get the feeling you aren’t seeing the real India. Delhi is a good place to visit, but make sure you see other locations in India.
Calcutta, India is a city known for having a serious poverty problem. While this is true, there is much more to the place.CalcuttaCalcutta is a colonial city organized during the period of British rule, which means a great majority of it is only one to two hundred years old. Unfortunately, the upkeep in the city has been seriously lacking. Frankly, the place appears to be falling down in most places.Rejecting the British moniker, the Bengali locals have moved to successfully change the name of Calcutta to Kolkata. The change hasn’t really been picked up with any gusto, but there you go.Kolkata is bursting with people. There may be as much as two times the number of people the city was designed to hold. Unfortunately, a large number of these people live in abject poverty. The poverty level you’ve seen in movies and heard about through the work of Mother Teresa exists in spades. It is very bad. If you’re ever disappointed about your station in life, just investigate or visit Calcutta. You’ll find you have nothing to complain about.From a traveler’s perspective, Calcutta is a place that should either be avoided at all costs or a must visit. If you can stand the mass poverty, the city has a surprising artistic underbelly. Art galleries, wild paintings and classic Indian music are on the menu. Huge festivals such as Durga Puja have to be seen to be believed.If you are going to give Calcutta a go, do not go at any point during June, July or August. While this is the coolest time of the year, it is also monsoon season. Drenching rain and Calcutta are not good mixes.
The resort village of Ruidoso, New Mexico has an unusually large number of all types of restaurants, galleries and shops. You can easily find a wide selection of foods, arts and gifts. There are also some great lesser known businesses and services available that the casual tourist may miss. Here are my top “Ten Best Kept Secrets About Ruidoso, New Mexico” to enhance your visit. We’ll use inverse order to build the suspense!10. Disco Taco – Yes, we have the upscale Mexican Restaurants. If you want a margarita and to mingle with fellow travelers, forget Disco Taco. If you want good, down to earth Mexican food without a tourist atmosphere, check it out. On highway 70 in Ruidoso Downs.9. Bad Chili – The phenomenon of the Ruidoso band Bad Chili keeps steaming along! Together only six months, the group is playing to packed houses all over town! Is it their music? Is it their style? Judge for yourself. Catch a serving of Bad Chili when you’re in Ruidoso.8. Go Ruidoso – The official travel and tourism website or Ruidoso, New Mexico. Chock full of information on local events, business and the community Go Ruidoso can be a life saver when planning a vacation in Ruidoso. Check them out at Goruidoso.com.7. Ruidoso Convention Center – Nestled in the sleepy little Village of Ruidoso sits the Ruidoso Convention Center. A first rate meeting facility, the convention center is adjacent to the world class Links at Sierra Blanca Golf Course and the Hawthorn Suites. Home to events of all sizes and types the convention center is the idea place to combine business with pleasure!6. Lincoln County Grill – The grill really isn’t a secret, but many still haven’t tried their tasty and generous menu items. Breakfast is a treat and whatever happens remember this one simple fact about the grill…Chicken Fried Steaks!5. Vacation Rentals – Accommodations of all types can fill up fast during peak periods in Ruidoso. Because rooms are in great demand, prices rise significantly for holidays and special events. One hedge against the high lodging prices are Ruidoso’s many vacation cabins, condos and home rentals. Private owners only in town for several weeks a year lease their properties out on a nightly basis. Frequently these offer amenities hotels don’t…private hot tubs, pool tables, putting greens, ski equipment racks and even boot warmers. All at a cost less that a room at an upscale area hotel!4. Chester Fried Chicken – I don’t do fried chicken very often but when I do, Chester’s blows the colonel out of the water! Tender and flavorful, Chester’s is available for take out from the Ruidoso Lawrence Brothers IGA Grocery.3. Weasel Productions – Weasel Productions is a Ruidoso hallmark in video production and photography. They feature the photographic skills of noted New Mexico photographer John T. Soden. John has been hailed by some as the “Ansel Adams of the mountain”! See his work in Ruidoso at the Hubbard Museum of the West and Josie’s Gallery and Framing. Sample the talent at http://www.weaselvideoproductions.com2. The Club House – A small, comfortable lounge tucked away behind a gas station. Relax with a libation, visit with friends or watch their big screen TV. This favorite “watering hole” is located at the intersection of Mechem (Hwy 48) and White Mountains Drives.Finally, the very best kept secret about Ruidoso…1. Visiting Ruidoso, New Mexico … the Ruidoso blog!Plan on exploring some of these rather unique Ruidoso attractions. You’ll have a great time discovering new favorites during your visit.
Just 50 minutes before, leaving the bustling tourism hub of Cairns – blue ocean on one side and cool rainforest clad mountains on the other – I had no idea my world as I knew it was soon going to blend beautifully with 35,000 head of prized Brahman cattle and 1.5 million acres of dust.Wrotham Park is described as a marriage between a luxurious, stylish resort and the dusty reality of a working cattle station. The first part of this I loved the sound of, the second part I wasn’t so sure about.I knew my first reaction was going to be to hide, to stay within my comfort zone – but the neatly rolled, chilled and fragrant hand towel offered to me by the driver when I stepped from the plane gave me Dutch courage and I started to wonder why it took so long for someone to come up with an idea like this. I felt a bit like the girl that Paul Hogan married in Crocodile Dundee.A few minutes later and the 4WD stopped in front of the Homestead – very Queensland, very Outback and very inviting. The beautiful lounge chairs, the airconditioned bar and sitting room are designed to make you feel like you’re in your own home. You are encouraged to come and go as you please. Wrothank Park has been carefully created to fit perfectly into Far North Queensland’s tropical savannah offering maximum comfort but still with a very distinctive outback feel.Back outside there is a cool breeze, a sparkling wet edge pool, day beds around a 5* campfire (the perfect place for the apperetifs and star gazing) and I just knew my bedroom accommodation was going to be stockman’s quarters meets luxurious comfort. It was. Crisp linen, overstuffed leather armchairs, designer bathrooms, CD player with a personalised selection of compact discs – these guest Quarters are visually spectacular, boasting a large deck for the ultimate enjoyment of the outback views.Early morning. The smell of dew on the grass. A stunning breakfast already cooked to order and finished. We drive half an hour to Mouth Organ Yard to get a glimpse into the lifestyle on a remote Australian cattle station. A group of outback stockmen arrive and their job today is to separate the weaners from the rest of the herd. It’s a hard, sweaty job – and a dangerous one. Not every animal co-operates – this is no guaranteed “show” for tourists. Lodge visitors are invited to watch, but there is no scheduled performance.That evening, lying on one of the daybeds near the pool, the sun has already dipped below the horizon. There is a smell of a distant bushfire and somewhere a kookaburra starts the last laugh of the day. This is the moment to close your eyes, smell, listen, smile – redo the lipstick – understand and appreciate.
Samuel Johnson said it almost 300 years ago, and I still believe it today …”If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.”I enjoy many locations around the world, but none so much as London. It’s the center of civilization, as far as I’m concerned. If something is ‘happening’ there, then it’s worth taking note.That’s why I was quite impressed to see the IceBar had set up shop on Heddon Street.You don’t need to have a taste for vodka in all its forms, but it helps. That’s not only because Absolut is the financial power behind this motif, but because there is a historically-established reason why cultures from cold climates got this creative with a potato. Not only does it ‘warm’ a soul from the inside, but in the realm of Absolut, it comes in more guises than you’ve got time to try in a 30-minute session. That happens to be a customer’s time limit in the IceBar, which also limits the number of icebarfights on record.This is a spinoff of the famous IceHotel in the Swedish arctic zone. If you like to travel, then this is a required destination. It’s only a 90-minute flight from Stockholm to Kiruna, where you’ve got a choice of snowmobile or dogsled (hint: take the sled) to complete your journey to the icy climes of Jukkasjaervi in Sweden’s portion of Lappland. It’s situated along the banks of the Torne River, widely acclaimed as being the source of the purest water in Europe, if not the world.I think this is one of the most spectacular scenes in existence. Everything is constructed of pure ice, from the chambers to the furniture to the decor (world-class sculptures from global artists are commissioned to create them each season) to the glassware. The all-ice wedding chapel is booked far in advance and the theater stages world-class productions.The beds do make the concession of thermal sleeping bags, which are amazingly comfortable, but even if you do get a bit chilled here, I guarantee you’ll be convinced it was worth it. I cannot think of a more majestic locale to view the Northern Lights flashing across the cold, crisp sky, bathing the ice in a blue-green glow that melds Nature’s wonder with that of man’s. The IceHotel is breathtaking in every sense of the word. It’s an experience which will be etched into your memory forever.Thus, it wasn’t a surprise to me when, during a trip to Stockholm a couple of years ago, I checked into the Nordic Sea hotel and noticed a scaled-down replica of the IceBar adjacent to the lobby. I loathe queues, so fortunately, I was there on a quiet night and there was no 30-minute limit in effect. I donned the thermal cloak and gloves they provide, ordered an Absolut citron and proceeded to mingle in search of someone to share a toast of ‘Skol!’. Trust me, it wasn’t hard to do!Its presence was such a ‘natural’ in Stockholm that I’ve thought more than once since then that the IceBar meets the critera for being a fixture in that center of chic that is London. And now it’s happened.The Â£12 cover is reasonable, the drinks are Absolut, the sculptures and decor are changed periodically — the cumulative body heat does cause melting over time, so re-building is a necessity — and the atmosphere is the only thing that is always warm. After all, who’s going to pay for a 30-minute stay, garbed in silver thermals, and not be in a festive mood? It’s a perfect addition to any festive itinerary.In chatting with the lovely blonde svensk flicka tending bar that evening, I discovered that Absolut is so pleased with the IceBar concept that they’re deploying them elsewhere. Besides Stockholm, they opened a franchice (I couldn’t resist the pun) in Milan before venturing into London. That makes sense. Stockholm’s ambience is quite-stylish and Milan’s is lively-stylish. If the IceBar succeeds in those cities, then it’s ready to move up to a London setting.It succeeds spectacularly. After one visit, and 30 minutes of Absolut, you may just reach for the cellphone and book reservations for the IceHotel, then and there.If so, you’ll join a growing list of those who have found that drinks in your ice can be more fun than ice in your drinks.
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House is practically an institution. It should be joined with the Manhattan Beach City Hall across the street to make this official. People in this part of Los Angeles swear by it. Crowds on weekends are the norm. I have been to this establishment many times and here is what I have noticed ….Uncle Bill’s opens at six in the morning and closes at three. Throughout the day it is busy. I have even visited it at 6am sharp. This was probably my favorite time since I got to chat with everyone working there and it was quiet and a bit surreal. There are three main sections in the restaurant: eat at the counter section, seating inside and seating outside with ocean view. Have your pick. I choose the breakfast special most often. It is the omelette combo, consisting of any of a variety of omelettes (practically pick your own ingredients, california with avocado, Uncle Bill’s, Greek and bunch of others), potatoes (very taste) and biscuits or pancakes. It will fill you up definitely and cost for the combo is from seven to ten dollars. Waffles are thin but delicious. Coffee is average diner coffee. Eggs and meats are really good and fresh. Pancakes are solid. Onions are included liberally in many omelettes.I will keep coming back here as will anyone else that lives in this part of town. For a hearty breakfast or pleasant lunch you can’t go wrong. Makes you feel kind of homey and small townish. This is good when you are surrounded by mega-chain breakfast fluorescent lamp lighted restaurants … I’d much rather go to Bill’s .. Recommended !!!
Ahhhh, the South Pacific! I have dreamed since I was a little kid to visit the islands, swim in the blue lagoon waters, bask in the sunshine, … This all came true recently. We spent a few weeks in French Polynesia. Our first stop was Moorea. We did not want to completely empty our bank account so we opted not to stay in one of the large resorts with over the water bungalows. One night at these places would have cost us more than our entire stay in Moorea. Here is what we though of Linareva ….We arrived by plane from Tahiti early in the morning. We had previously organized transfer to Linareva. Upon our arrival we were immediately greeted with the wodnerful location of Linareva. The water was smooth as glass, there were more colorful fish here than in most aquariums and the backdrop with the vulcanic peaks amazed us. Our selection was for a room with air-conditioning (recommended). It can get hot here and some cool air is welcome. The hut or the Tahitian grass “fare”, as they call it, that we had was very basic. It did have all the ammenities we wanted but they were modest. At night, we were bothered by all sorts of bugs, like large cockroaches, spiders and the like. Sort of interrupted our sleep if you know what I mean … We did not mind the geckos … The small kitchen that was included proved valuable since around here there are no restaurants (apart from the one owned by Linareva). We opted not to have the breakfast included (it did not include much protein which we need). Instead, we would bike to the nearest grocery store, buy eggs, baguettes, cheese, milk etc. and prepare it ourselves. There is a small eating area outside the fare overlooking the Pacific. The beach here was not that great. We would paddle out to the reef and swim in the most wonderful blue waters there. There is a nice swimming area by the small pier. You will swim along side very exotic fish here. Kayaks and bikes at Linareva are free for guests. Bikes are really crappy though. The reception is on the restaurant boat. At night, there did not seem to be anyone there. This was a bit weird being usually used to having a 24 hour reception at your disposal.Nature is beautiful around Linareva. Unlike most places on Moorea, here you might be the only person in the water, enjoying the scenery for yourself. There is a certain seclusion. Sunsets are some of the best anywhere I have been to in the world. If you like this and do not mind the bugs this is a place for you. We appreciated it more; the more we stayed here. It definitely felt like we were at least somewhat submerged in the South Pacific lifestyle … Recommended for people who would like to taste a bit of real South Pacific
Recent disasters have brought worldwide attention to the damage hurricanes can cause. Still, many travelers choose to visit the Caribbean and surrounding areas during the hurricane season. Some may wonder why people would knowingly put themselves in such danger, but the benefits of traveling during this season can often outweigh the risks.First, The FactsHurricane season in the Atlantic lasts throughout much of the year – June through November. This is the time of year when tropical storms can change into fast-moving storm systems that can severely damage property if they reach land.However, it’s important to remember that that not every storm makes landfall and not every strong storm turns into a hurricane. Tropical storms and even tropical depressions can make landfall and cause tornadoes and flooding problems but are far less severe than hurricanes.Typically, the later months of hurricane season bring the strongest storms. September and October, for example, see spikes in the number and intensity of such storms, while damaging strikes are rare in the early months of the season.Benefits of Off-Season TravelAlthough hurricanes can certainly be a deterrent to tropical travel, many vacationers choose to take their chances. Most years, travelers have little to worry about, and taking a gamble can be worth the relaxation of a tropical vacation.Of all the benefits of off-season travel, the most talked-about is cost. Travel during the hurricane season often includes the benefit of extremely low-cost vacationing. Hotels can sometimes even cut rates in half, and tour operators, airlines, and rental companies usually follow suit.With children on break from school in June, July, and August, the beginning of hurricane season can be the perfect time for a family vacation. And, of course, travel in the early portion of the hurricane season reduces the chances of being affected by storms.Travelers looking to avoid crowds during their vacation will find off-season travel a breath of fresh air. While there may be reduced hours at some island attractions, travelers who enjoy spending time alone on a beach won’t mind abbreviated hours.Location, Location, LocationIf you’d like to travel during the hurricane season, another way to eliminate some of the danger from hurricanes is to choose your destination wisely. The southern Caribbean usually avoids the brunt of hurricane season. In fact, there is a “hurricane zone” through which most of these tropical storms pass. Islands outside this zone are rarely hit.The best-known of these islands are the ABC Islands. Dutch territories Aruba, Bonaire, and CuraÃ§ao are located just north of the coast of Venezuela, and each offer Caribbean flair without the tropical danger.Another way to prepare for the worst is to check out the hurricane policy of the hotel you choose to book. Many hotels have hurricane policies offering complimentary stays for the same number of nights the following year, or they may offer other similar plans to help ease the sting of a disrupted vacation.So even though many hurricanes cause trouble in the Caribbean, it is a sure thing that vacationers will be back during hurricane season next year. With so many benefits, why not?
Yes, I put my hands up. I admit it. I have an insatiable appetite for looking into other peoples homes.No. I am not a “Peeping Tom”. When I looked up the definition of “Peeping Tom” in my Collins Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus I am told that Peeping Tom is a man who furtively observes women undressing. That is definitely not me. But, yes, I do confess to glancing furtively sideways when out walking to see how much I can see through any windows not shrouded with window nets. I prefer to think I am inquisitive, having a natural curiosity to find out what puts the soul into a home… what, inspires people and what treasures (or sometimes not) are hidden behind the front door.Thankfully I can, legitimately, indulge my curiosity, because there are so many beautiful houses and gardens open to the public to visit both in this country and abroad.On a recent summer trip to Gozo with my husband we decided to take the ferry back to Malta and drive into Valetta. There I found the Casa Rocca Piccola, at 74 Republic Street, the 16th century home of a Maltese nobleman. It is now the home of the 9th Marquis de Piro and his family. Frances, the Marchioness is English and it is her who greets you as you walk through the front door. The history of Casa Rocca Piccola goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St. John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build themselves a prestigious city to rival European capitals. The house is named after the first owner, Don Pietro La Rocca, Admiral of the Order of St. John in the Langue of Italy. It was, in later years, let to a succession of Italian aristocratic knights and sold to a Maltese nobleman in the second half of the 18th century.Casa Rocca Piccola is not a museum: it is, in a sense, more than that. It is a living relic of a past way of life burdened with the pretension and aspirations of Maltese lineage. There are numerous items of memorabilia to be seen, not only for their artistic merit, but also because they contribute reality to the overall scene.Climbing the ornate marble staircase you will see, dominating the top landing a carved wood de Piro coat of arms. This was the last work of the Maltese artist Edward Pirotta. Hanging above is an enormously intricate chandelier from Bohemia. The first room to be visited on your tour is the Chapel in which the walls are painted to simulate damask. There are two crosses on the alter: an ivory crucifix that was granted two hundred days indulgence by Cardinal Godfrey in 1960. The second cross houses a particle of the True Cross behind a little red curtain. Its authenticity is confirmed by no less than seven Vatican seals on the reverse. As was the case with most European noble families it was the custom for the younger son to become a priest and for that reason in particular, many patrician families were given the privilege of keeping a chapel in the house. The Marquis’s grandfather represented George VI and his medals are kept here together with an exquisite pair of shoes known as Papal buskins and a pair of silver filigree earrings, a present from the Bishop of Gozo to Nicolina de Piro after her husband donated land to build the famous Ta’Pinu church in Gozo.
On next to the Green Room where the walls are indeed green! Here there is a magnificent marquetry bookcase that especially caught my eye. Made in about 1640 during the reign of the French Provencal Grand Master Lascaris it bears his arms on the door. The panels are inlayed inside and outside. A fascinating work of art. I was told that the veneer was a mix of olive and orange wood. There are many portraits hung on the walls and proudly placed is a photograph of the 8th Baron and Baroness who attended the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. Moving on to the Four- Poster bedroom, the only room in the house not in use, the bed is a showpiece reputed to be great-grandmother Orsola’s matrimonial bed. Married in 1867 she produced 9 children: 7 boys and 2 girls. They all survived childhood and so the bed is considered lucky!The next room is the Porphyr Room so called because the walls were at one time painted to imitate porphyry marble; then the Blue Room or petit salon with modern pictures collected by the family. Among them works by Annigoni, The Rathmells, Rowley-Smart and Durer. The style of the Dining Room that once had an open terrace overlooking the small garden contrasts with the rest of the house and is considered a “folly”. Built by the current family’s Grandfather in 1918 its white pillars and light aspect certainly make it very different to the rest of the house. It gives the impression of being a conservatory because of its lightness and airiness.A trompe l’oeil of a Spanish woman playing a harp on a black and white tiled floor produces an exaggerated perspective that gives the impression that the room is longer. The last room is the Carriage Room that was once a stable for a mule but, going back, perhaps my favourite room is the Library. Here I found what can only be described as the most outstanding piece of furniture imaginable. A portable chapel. When shut it looks for all the world like a large black lacquered bureau however, it opens up to become a fully functioning chapel with it own tabernacle, relics and the Way of the Cross. It is richly decorated with pictures of exotic birds and flora and panels depicting St. Francis Zavier in Japan and Goa. The idea was that you could have a Chapel in any room of your house and then it could be closed up to look like a secular piece of furniture. An absolutely breathtaking piece.One of the treasures of the house I must not forget to mention though is a golden sedan chair made for the Knight of Malta, Fra Victor Nicolas de Vachon Belmont reputed to be a romantic figure who led his men personally, oh, and lastly “April” the family tortoise to be found in the small garden. Interestingly Casa Rocca Piccola was one of the few houses at the time of the knights to be allowed a garden. It was a great privilege for its owners as water was scarce and gardens were technically forbidden.So, if you ever find yourself strolling down Republic Street in Valletta, Casa Rocca Piccola gives you a rare opportunity to see inside one of the last private unconverted Valletta palaces still lived in today. It comes highly recommended to anyone like myself, with a curiosity and inquisitive appetite to see inside other peoples homes.