Los Angeles

Which travel site has the lowest fares to Los Angeles?

planesThere are more airfare booking sites out there than you can shake a stick at, but do they all end up with the same fares in the end. BootsnAll decided to put that to a test, so they ran Expedia, Hotwire, Kayak, Orbitz, Priceline, SideStep, and Travelocity through their paces on 6 different and varied itineraries. Los Angeles was one of the test cities, so if you are thinking of booking a flight to or from the City of Angels soon, this might save you a bit of money.

I won’t reveal the results here, but there were some surprises. One site actually stood out as the clear winner, so see for yourself how each site did and which of these travel search engines is the cheapest.

Articles Croatia

Kayaking Croatia

kayak.jpgSeeing Croatia by boat is the best way to experience the nation. Every experienced traveler’s dream vacation is to see the country’s thousands of island’s via the water and kayaking is an exciting, cheaper way to do just that.

Sea Kayaking in Croatia is ideal for all skill levels maybe even those who haven’t ever been in a boat before. The calm sea and warm water in Croatia is hard to beat in terms of ease for the average boater and inexperienced paddlers normally afraid of the water may even find that the thought of going overboard is not so bad when it is into the balmy Adriatic.

For more experienced paddlers, there are tours and extended trips between the islands that provide enough paddling to satisfy even the most enthusiastic boater.


Running white water at high speeds in small, current driven river kayaks is not the Croatian style. That’s too aggressive and kayaking in Croatia is all about relaxing, moving under your own power and enjoying the sun.

Tours of the islands are available from the companies up and down the coast of Croatia. Adriatic Kayak Tours offers kayaking throughout the region. Their island hopping tour is their most popular package.

Real Adventures also offers an 8 day package for skilled kayakers in good shape that jumps between islands, but their best selling packages are for the Family Kayaking Tour and Short Break tour which don’t require extensive paddling.


If you’re an experienced kayaker and don’t want your paddling to be constrained by the restrictions of touring with a group of little tykes, some of the tour companies offer rentals for individual or group use. Sea-kayak rentals are available from Huck Finn Adventure Travel and Real Adventures, as well as in harbors and ports around much of the city.

Articles Los Angeles

Highland Park and Eagle Rock

highland-park.jpgHighland Park and Eagle Rock make up the area between Glendale and Pasadena in East Los Angeles. Although they are incorporated within the city of Los Angeles, the two neighborhoods have distinct boundaries and neighborhood identities.

Highland Park

Highland Park is a neighborhood north east of Los Angeles bordered by the 110 freeway, South Pasadena, and Eagle Rock. The neighborhood is relatively small, but within its borders there is a progression from a depressed neighborhood full of people just trying to get by, to an area of interesting architecture, beautiful houses and relative wealth.

Highland Park is one of the oldest settled suburbs of Los Angeles. During the 1960’s the area became predominantly Latino and in the last few decades a significant black and Asian population has moved in to the neighborhood.

Attractions in Highland Park include the Southwest Museum, which has a vast collection of Native American artifacts from surrounding tribes, and various local restaurants and bars.

Eagle Rock

A formerly somewhat depressed area similar to Highland Park, in the last few years Eagle Rock has been revitalized and rebounded from a few decades of decline. Termed “the new Silver Lake” when local residents realized that housing prices were somewhat less in Eagle Rock than surrounding areas, Eagle Rock has seen an influx of urban hipsters and residents with disposable income that has tipped the neighborhood on its head.

Eagle Rock’s small area has the self-contained feel of a college town. The neighborhood is home to Occidental College, a small liberal arts university with 2,000 students and a significant number of those students stay in Eagle Rock after graduation. The local student watering hole “The Chalet” is frequently ranked in the top ten bars in Los Angeles and local restaurants like Casa Bianca and The Bucket draw accolades from food critics across the city.


Casa Bianca and The Bucket are both neighborhood mainstays in Eagle Rock. They are landmarks that have been around forever. Two new restaurants have opened across the street from each other on Colorado Boulevard at the heart of Eagle Rock, Dave’s Chillin’ and Grillin’ and The Oinkster. “Dave’s” is a sandwich shop run by Massachusetts transplant Dave Evans which focuses on the quality of ingredients for the best sandwiches in the city, The Oinkster bills itself as “slow fast food” and has the name of fine dining chef Andre Guerrero to back it. While the Oinkster participates in such foolery as making their own ketchup every day from scratch, the dining experience at Dave’s makes you feel like you’re getting a custom sandwich. Just ask Dave about his ingredients and watch him go.

Articles Los Angeles

Runyon Canyon

puppies_puppy_silly_242881_l.jpgRunyon Canyon offers a set of easy hiking trails close to Griffith Park and Hollywood for locals looking for exercise and tourists looking for views of the city.

In 1984 the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy bought Runyon Canyon from Adad Development and transformed it into a park with hiking trails leading up the steep slopes to a hillside with beautiful views of Los Angeles, the Hollywood hills, and the surrounding metro area.

Runyon Canyon sits in the same hills as the Hollywood sign and hikers can access the trails from Fuller Street, a few blocks West of La Brea. The park’s trails and outdoor setting bring out dog walkers, runners and hikers from Hollywood’s stable of acting and entertainment hopefuls as well as regular folks from all over the city.

There are two entrances to the park at the bottom of the canyon, on Fuller Ave and Vista St. and one at the top of the park, where Mulholland Drive intersects the main trail. Parking is limited to street parking at each entrance, which explains why the park is mainly used by locals, but public transit can get you within walking distance of the park at the Hollywood and Highland rail station and several bus lines will drop you even closer.

Once you arrive at the park, your hiking options are between a clockwise or counter-clockwise circuit of the trails, or an out and back to the upper portion of the park. The top of the park is a steep mile from the bottom, but it seems farther than that because of the incline and hikers should allow at least 45 minutes for a 2 mile hike.

Frank Lloyd Wright House

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house in 1944 for George Headley which now stands within the bounds of Runyon Canyon Park. The house, off Mulholland Drive, follow one of three designs that Wright submitted for the building, all designed around a central chimney and high master bedroom that stands alone and makes use of the full circle of views from the top of the hills.

Additional structures were supposed to be built after Lloyd Wright designed a country club called the “Huntington Hartford Play Resort” in the hills that are now Runyon Canyon, but those plans were abandoned when the developer purchased different land and decided to invest in that instead.


Top 10 Ways to Market your Hostel

Articles Los Angeles

Manhattan Beach

volleyball_beach_blue_268276_l.jpgThe city of Manhattan Beach is a beach community close to the downtown area of Los Angeles and LAX. Named for New York’s Manhattan island, the city is one of the most desirable places to live in the city and home to many notable residents. Athletes especially seem to gravitate toward Manhattan Beach. The point guards for several NBA teams have houses in Manhattan Beach, as well as Michael Olowokandi, the Boston Celtics center, Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, soccer player Landon Donovan and baseball player Nomar Garciaparra.

Manhattan Beach began in the late 19th century when several ranches were purchased and combined into one mega-sized plot of land that is now the 10.2 square mile city.

Beach Sports

It is not terribly surprising that so many athletes would gravitate toward the city. The beach attracts athletes of all levels to roller blade or bike along the paved path that runs up and down the entire length of Los Angeles’ beaches as well as a large number of surfers, beach volleyball players and joggers who want to exercise on the sand itself.

Manhattan Beach is actually the de facto home of beach volleyball and the epicenter of the pro beach volleyball circuit. Although the sport was technically invented in nearby Santa Monica, the scene volleyball scene is nowhere better than Manhattan Beach. Numerous nets and courts are set up each day for public use and pick up games are easy to come by.

Pros describe the Beach volleyball tournament at Manhattan Beach as the best that the circuit has to offer and because many grew up playing on the sandy courts at Huntington and Manhattan Beach, they games are often the most competitive at this tournament. The national television audience and high prize money probably doesn’t hurt either.

Manhattan Beach can fill up on the weekends and parking can be hard to find. There are a few parking garages sprinkled throughout the city, but be sure to bring quarters to feed the meter and be sure to head back to your car promptly. Parking enforcement comes through swiftly and writes hefty tickets if they get to your car.

Real Estate

Money Magazine ranked Manhattan Beach the fourth most expensive city to live in in America in 2005 and Forbes ranked the Manhattan Beach ZIP code 90266 the 29th most expensive in the nation that same year. Houses typically sell for millions of dollars depending on the proximity to the beach and as sets of family size houses are torn down and replaced by beachfront mansions, the prices have continued to climb.

Articles Croatia

Diocletian’s Palace

oculus_diocletian_palace_96975_l.jpgRoman Emperor Diocletian probably didn’t know that building his retirement home on the coast of Croatia would spawn a town that would become one of the most populated and well-known in Croatia. The original structure around which the city of Split blossomed, Diocletian’s Palace is now the center of culture, business and nightlife in Split.

The palace was built between the 3rd and 4th centuries and the location was chosen for its proximity to the white stones on the island of Brac as much as for any of the attributes of the city around it. Brac’s white rocks provided the material out of which Diocletian’s white palace was built. Those same rocks would be exported 14 centuries later, to America, for the construction of the White House in Washington D.C.

Now, Diocletian’s Palace is full of businesses, shops, bars, clubs and Internet cafes. The main bus station and ferry terminal are located directly in front of the palace and it serves as a gathering place for most of the tourists in the city at night.

In 1979, the palace became a UNESCO world-heritage sight based on its merit as an ancient palace that has lasted throughout the centuries and continues to serve an important purpose within the city and community.

There are several landmarks in Diocletian’s Palace that every tourist should see. The statue of Grgur Ninski outside the gates of Diocletian’s palace is one of them. Grgur Ninski defied the Catholic Church and introduced the Croatian language into Church servicesThe famous statue by Ivan Mestrovic is one of the most popular works of art in Split and touching the big toe of the statue is supposed to be a lucky charm for the people passing by. You can see that the foot of the statue is now well worn and rubbed to a shiny bronze by the people passing by each day hoping to improve their fortunes.

With the city of Split having grown around the structure, it can be difficult to tell where it begins. Diocletian’s Palace was not only a castle built for the Emperor of Rome to retire to, but a fortress protecting the people inside as well. The thick outer walls were built to be easily defensible and now the walls serve to separate the palace from the rest of the city. Upon entering Diocletian’s Palace the walls and buildings seem to grow together, as if built on a different scale than the rest of the city, which it was.

If arriving in Split from another part of Croatia, that Diocletian’s palace will most likely be the first thing that you see. If it’s not, it is perhaps the one truly unmissable sight to be sure you see in Split.

travel guide

Five of Europe’s most notorious hostels

Flying pigIt’s a strange phenomenon that many of Europe’s most famous hostels are also the ones that get the most criticism. Perhaps the best known places attract the most newcomers to the hostel game, so these places are often filled with people who’ve yet to learn the standards of common decency for hostels yet? Or it could be that these are some of the largest hostels in Europe’s largest party cities, so the ratio of careless drunken idiots to rational people is extremely high?

Your guess is as good as mine, but here is a list of five famous hostels that seem to have as many detractors as they have fans, at least among the hardcore hostel crowd:

travel guide

Older hostel guests are invading

OlderhostelguyWe recently wrote about the obvious fact that more hostels are adding private rooms to their offerings, and this phenomenon brings up another undeniable trend in hostelling, and one that is closely related as to that as well. Especially in the past 5 years or so, the number of older people using hostels as a way to save money and meet people seems like it’s gone up sharply.

travel guide

100 Years of Hostelling, Honored With a Stamp?

stampHostels are so taken for granted as great budget accommodations that independent travelers can find just about everywhere on earth, that it’s kind of weird to think about the history of hostelling. So let’s do that for a moment, shall we?

Hostelling is coming up on its 100th anniversary in 2009. You might think the idea of hostels is much older, and that’s probably true – but according to Hostelling International, the first honest-to-goodness hostel opened in Germany in 1909. (Don’t double-check this fact with Wikipedia, because they say something different. And we all know how easy it is to screw with Wikipedia.) At any rate, hostels were once all “youth hostels,” with age limits and curfews and midday lock-out periods. These days there are fewer and fewer hostels with any kind of age limit, and curfews and lock-out times are also becoming more rare.