Featured Articles

Backpackers Budget Guide

backpacking.jpgGuatemala has been gaining popularity by hardcore backpackers for some time now. Maybe it is the overly friendly people, the countries beautiful landscapes, or the abundance of history. I would guess though, that it has more to do with how far you can make your budget stretch here. While many places in Central America are backpacker budget friendly, Guatemala is certainly near the top of the list.

Average Budget Prices

If you can stick to your budget, it is very possible to live and travel off of US$12 to US$17 a day per person. This of course assumes you are staying at hostels and backpacker friendly lodging. This US$12 to US$17 a day price includes meals if you eat at local restaurants and avoid the more upscale places that target tourists.

Croatia Featured Articles

Brjuni Beach

peacock_feathers_plumage_278116_m.jpgThere are two distinct stories of Brijuni Beach. The first is of a fairy tale secluded romantic getaway for lovers that brings two people closer together walking hand in hand on the soft sand as the sun sets and waves flirt with toes and the sounds of silence accentuate the conversation. Brijuni is often voted Croatia’s most romantic beach and sometimes one of the top beaches for couples in Europe.

The second story of Brijuni Beach is that of a circus or a zoo. Marshal Tito considered Brijuni his personal playground and now the island runs wild with the offspring of the many and varied types of wildlife that he brought to the island as amusement for the aristocracy that he hosted and entertained.

Zebras, horses, peacocks ostriches and other animals populate the island and because of the diverse wildlife, the island has been slower to be settled and developed than other islands in Croatia.

Staying on Brijuni is more difficult than on some of the more popular islands. Tours are often sold in conjunction with accommodations, so if you don’t have a hotel room booked on the island it can be difficult to get out to the zoological wonderland.

This may be part of what makes Brijuni so romantic. Because getting there is so difficult, you’ll often find your parties limited to just you two and a forest full of unnatural wildlife.

Although the island is located just off the coast of the Istrian Peninsula, getting to Brijuni can be tricky. The best way to get to the island is to book transportation through your hotel. This will require an overnight stay, but you cannot do Brijuni justice in one day or less. Once you’re on Brijuni, be sure to get to the Roman ruins on the west side. There are several tours that go through here on their way around the island.

Brijuni is tough to see on a budget but it can be done. The hotels and resorts are three, four and five star hotels with prices to match. Luckily each one is right on the water and worth every penny that you sink into the trip.

The best of these hotels is the Istra Neptun, which provides you with activities and things to do on your trip like cycling and wine tasting. The Istra Neptun runs at 123 Euros a night but offers comparable service with a five star resort at that price which is significantly less than what you would pay for a comparable hotel in Dubrovnik or on one of the islands.

Featured Articles Los Angeles Things to Do

Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Hollywood I Love You

Hollywood Forever MainSqueezed against the back lot of Paramount Studios, with a full view of the Hollywood sign, is the home of many Hollywood greats, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It is a quiet place to contemplate the allure of Hollywood and the ephemeral nature of celebrity.

Cecil B. De Mille and his wife lie within sight of the Paramount water tower. Tyrone Power, Benny Goodman, Marion Davis and Valentino are all present. Mel Blanc rests right near the cemetery entrance. His stone is covered with small rocks (each signifying a visit to the grave) and two tiny pictures of Bugs Bunny. Further in, an obelisk marks the grave of Griffith J. Griffith, donor of Griffith Park. He is equally well known for shooting his wife while in an alcoholic rage. An early movie director, William Tanner, is also here. He was murdered. On discovering the body, his butler called the movie studio before dialing the police. Tanner’s murder is still unsolved.

Featured Articles Sweden Things to Do

Top Ten Museums in Stockholm

There are more than 100 museums in Stockholm to choose from, but here is a selection. See websites for admission and opening hours.

1. The Vasa Museum (Djurgården) – The world’s only intact 17th century ship, the Vasa, which sank on her maiden voyage in Stockholm’s habor in 1628.

2. Moderna Museet (Skeppsholmen) – Contemporary art from 1900, and photography from the 1840s. The permanent collection includes works by artists such as Duchamp, Picasso, Dalí and Matisse.

3. The National Museum (Blasieholmshamnen, next to the Grand Hotel) – The national gallery and Sweden’s largest art museum. More than 16,000 paintings and sculptures and an extensive collection of applied art, design and industrial design dating back to the 14th century.

4. The Nordic Heritage Museum – Swedish and Scandinavian cultural history.

5. Stockholm City Museum – History and development of the Swedish capital. Free admission.

6. Skansen (Djurgården) – Open air museum with historical buildings, a zoo and an aquarium. Open year round.

7. Ethnographic Museum (Djurgården). Rotating exhibitions on various world cultures.

8. Junibacken (Djurgården). The kids will love this real-life rendition of Astrid Lindgren’s stories. Meet Pippi Longstocking and the rest of the gang.

9. Nobel Museum (Gamla Stan). Located in the old Stock Exchange building in Stortorget, the big square in the Old Town. Learn all about the great minds who have won the prestigious Nobel Prize awarded in Stockholm every December.

10. Abba Museum. It’s not opening until June 2009, but tickets have already gone on sale to see this tribute to the most famous Swedish pop stars of all time.

Photo by: AbhijeetVardhan

Featured Articles Portugal

Portugal’s Cork Industry

Cork forestPortugal is one of the world’s major cork growers; as much as one third of the total cork oak area is in Portugal, which accounts for about half of the cork harvested annually in the world.

Cork oak

The cork oak loves the western Mediterranean climate, which means the Algarve is the region where the best quality cork is obtained. Cork oak also grows in Alentejo.

Cork is a light, flexible, elastic material, impervious to moisture, to liquid and gaseous substances. Its qualities led to the industrial utilization of the material. With the invention of glass bottles, cork became important for the stopper industry.

Portuguese cork production is directed at big consumer markets such as USA, UK, Germany. The industry represents 16% of the total foreign income derived from trade.

Featured Articles Portugal

Port – flagship wine of Portugal

Port winePort wine (Vinho do Porto) is a sweet, fortified Portuguese wine from the Douro Valley. Often it’s served as a dessert wine, along with cheese. Port wine is protected by the European Union guidelines, hence only the wine originating in Douro Valley may be called “Porto”, although similar wines are produced in several countries.

Douro Valley

The region located in Northern Portugal has a perfect microclimate for growing grapes, olives and almonds. This region is also known for its picturesque farms, “hanging” on the almost vertical slopes dropping down into the river.

Featured Articles Portugal

Bacalhau – the national dish of Portugal

BacalhauBacalhau means “cod” in Portuguese but the word also refers to salted cod, the national dish of Portugal. Bachalhau is very popular in Portugal, as well as in Galicia (Spain). However, it’s not a staple dish in the former Portuguese colonies.

When is Bacalhau eaten?

Salted cod is considered a delicacy. It’s eaten on special days such as Christmas Day or during the Holy Week. It’s also a very common dish on Good Friday.

Bacalhau dishes

Some say there are 365 ways of cook bacalhau, one for each day of the week. Others say there are 101 ways to prepare it. No mater who you believe, there are a lot of recipe variations, depending both on the traditions and regions.

Featured Articles Turkey

Turkish Delight (Lokum)

Turkish DelightPretty much anything that’s satisfying is either sinful or makes you fat. I don’t know about sinful, but Turkish Delight surely can make you fat. Reason enough to walk around and visit the sites when in Turkey, right?

What is Turkish Delight?

Turks call it Lokum, the rest of us call it Turkish Delight. It’s made of gelatin, water, cornstarch and sugar. The most common flavors are rosewater and lemon, which give it the pink and yellow colors. Turkish Delight can also be flavored with mint. Small nuts might also be added to the Lokum (generally walnuts, pistachio or hazelnuts). You’ll find it cut into small cubs and dusted with sugar and cornstartch.

Featured Articles Turkey

Turkish coffee

Turkish coffeeFor any coffee lover, the Turkish coffee is probably one of the most interesting experiences in life. The aroma, the foam, the ritual…blended together they add something magical to the Turkish coffee.

What’s so special about Turkish coffee?

This magnificent coffee is made from Arabica blend, really finely grinded. To add a bit of spice to it, while the coffee is being ground, cardamom is added to the coffee beans.

There are six levels of sweetness, ranging from black to very sweet. Sade is the plain Turkish coffee, with no sugar but it’s fairly bitter. If you choose to drink a sweet Turkish coffee, sugar is added to the coffee while it’s prepared. As the coffee is being prepared in an ibrik -narrow-topped small boiling pot-, it begins to foam.

Turkish coffee is served hot in a fincan. After the guest drinks it, the custom is to turn the cup upside down, allow it to cool and then the hostess will tell the guest’s fortune reading from the remaining grounds in the cup.

Featured Articles Libya

Libya Map

Here is a basic map of Libya.