Articles Los Angeles

Travel to LA for NBA All-Star Weekend

Basketball fans have one more reason to visit Los Angeles this winter. This year, the city is hosting the NBA All-Star Weekend, a festival of basketball-related events, celebrity games and slam-dunk contests. Even if you aren’t a fan, it’s a weekend of sports, fun, and celebrities, and it’s a great excuse to plan a visit to sunny Los Angeles.

As always, airlines tend to raise prices to any destination hosting a special event, so you may find flights to Los Angeles cost more than they normally do during this time. But there are still some NBA All-Star Weekend travel deals out there that can help you bring down the cost of indulging in your favorite sports obsession.

Hotels close to the venues may still be available and those that are will be eager to offer incentives to fill rooms. Cheap hotels in LA that are farther away from the festivities may also be a good budget option, just be aware that the city is notorious for its traffic, so the savings may not be worth it once you factor in the extra time spent in the car.

If basketball just isn’t your passion, there’s still plenty of reason to visit LA. While the sports nut in your life is off watching the games, get out to sightsee in the city. Check out the Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame, shop on Rodeo Drive, visit Santa Monica, or just stake out all your favorite celebrities.

Photo by jondoeforty1

Portugal travel guide

Support Portuguese Players in the Champions League

Portugal, like most of Europe, loves its football, and the world’s top club competition, the UEFA Champions League, is coming to its knockout rounds. Sixteen teams remain, and unfortunately none of them are Portuguese, with both Braga and Benfica missing out in the group stage. However, there are a number of Portuguese stars playing on foreign teams that still have a great chance to do something on club football’s biggest stage. Remaining Portuguese players include:

Vitorino Antunes (Defender – AS Roma)
Ricardo Costa (Defender – Valencia)
Miguel Monteiro (Defender – Valencia)
Ricardo Carvalho (Defender – Real Madrid)
Pepe (Defender – Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Forward – Real Madrid)
Nani (Midfielder – Manchester United)
Bebe (Forward – Manchester United)
Paulo Ferreira (Defender – Chelsea)
Henrique Hilario (Backup goalkeeper – Chelsea)

So if you’re looking for a team to support, based purely on number of Portuguese players, Real Madrid is your team with the combination of their two strong Portuguese defenders and of course Portugal’s captain, Cristiano Ronaldo. With Ronaldo scoring pretty much at will this season, it’s a good bet that he’ll take them to the later rounds of the tournament. If you’re looking for more of an underdog to support, Valencia has never won a Champions League, and has only reached the final twice, losing both. Hopefully, next season, Porto or Benfica can return to the late stages of the Champions League, which a Portuguese team hasn’t won since 2004.

Honduras travel guide

Supporting Honduras at the 2010 World Cup

honduras-home1The world’s biggest sporting event, the 2010 World Cup, is coming very soon, and it’s time to throw your support behind the Honduras national team as they enter their first World Cup since 1982. Los Catrachos will have a tough road to qualify for the later rounds, but they bring one of their strongest squads ever to this tournament, so they might just be a dark horse contender.

Get to know the team:
Honduras doesn’t have as many players from the big European leagues as some other countries do, but there are a few excellent players on the squad who could make a real impact in the World Cup. Carlo Costly has only been playing with the national team for 3 years but is already 8th on the all-time Honduras scoring list with 14 goals for his country. Amado Guevara has spent much of his career in the United States, but has returned to Honduras to play his club football now, and is captain of the team. Other stars include Maynor Figueroa and a potent strike partnership of Carlos Pavon and David Suazo.
>> Check out the entire Honduras World Cup squad.

Wear the gear:
Honduras has new home and away kits for this World Cup, and there’s no better way to show your support for the team than to get your jersey and wear it on match days. The Honduras home jersey is white with a blue pattern across the chest, and the Honduras away shirt has white and blue vertical stripes, with a large blue “H”. Get your kit and be ready to kiss that crest when the first “golazo” goes in.

Know the enemy:
That “H” on the away jersey will be doubly significant, since Honduras has been drawn into World Cup Group H. They will fancy their chances to take points away from Switzerland, but will face two serious challenges in the other group matches, against a very strong Chile team that beat Argentina in qualifying, and against the mighty Spain, already champions of Europe and looking to add their first World Cup trophy to that achievement.

Follow along online:
Here are some links to help you stay up to date with the Honduras World Cup campaign:
Honduras World Cup Blog
Honduras World Cup on Twitter
Honduras for the World Cup on Facebook

Portugal travel guide

Support Portugal at the World Cup

portugal-1011-home-soccer-jerseyIt’s almost time. The world’s biggest sporting event, the 2010 World Cup, is almost upon us, and it’s time to throw your support behind the boys in red and green, the Portugal national team. Here’s a simple guide to following and supporting the team during June (and hopefully July).

Know the Players:
Portugal has a strong team all around, but by far the biggest star on the side is Cristiano Ronaldo. When Ronaldo plays well, and scores goals, Portugal does well. When he is out of form or injured, as he was during World Cup qualification, things tend to get a lot harder for the team. With defenders like Pepe, Ferreira, Carvalho and Bruno Alves, they shouldn’t allow in too many chances, but Portugal lacks a world-class goalkeeper, and that could be a major problem.
>> Check out the entire Portugal World Cup roster.

Get the gear:
Portugal has brand new home and away jerseys for this World Cup, and there’s no better way to show your support for the team than to get your kit and wear it on match days. The Portugal home kit is red with a green stripe across the chest, and the Portugal away shirt is white with both green and red stripes down the middle. Whether you’re at the match, at the pub, or at home, true supporters will be wearing the kit when the team takes the pitch.

Know your enemies:
Portugal is drawn into World Cup Group G, probably the most difficult of the eight groups. North Korea shouldn’t be a major threat, but 5-time World Cup champions Brazil are ready to make another long run in the tournament, and Ivory Coast are looking to grab the glory on African soil, powered by the Premier League scoring champion, Didier Drogba.

Follow along online:
Here are some links to help you stay up to date with Portugal’s World Cup campaign:
Portugal World Cup Blog
Portugal World Cup on Twitter
Portugal for the World Cup on Facebook

Los Angeles Things to Do

Orange County’s “Great Park”

Los Angeles often comes under criticism because it doesn’t have enough parks or green space within the city. Sure, there are mountains nearby and the beach is always available. The city does have the one of the largest parks within city limits in Griffith Park, but the average person in Los Angeles does not have a park within walking distance. There’s nowhere to just take the dog for a walk or go for a quick run.

Nowhere is this problem more pronounced than in Orange County, where traffic locks up and strip mall parking lots are the closest thing to open space that the city has.

Orange County is trying to correct for that problem in one large, ambitious bout of overcompensation. The “Great Park” under development aims to provide the residents of Orange County with one massive mega park, where all their park needs will be met at one central location.

Built over the top of El Toro military base, the Great Park is going to be 1,347 acres of recreation opportunities and open space, baseball diamonds and soccer fields as well as cultural centers, interpretive experiences and nature hikes through three miles of canyon.

The park will also feature a museum presenting the history of El Toro base as well as some of the military aircraft that flew from the airfield. The Great Park will stretch from the beach to the mountains and will be larger than New York City’s Central Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park put together.

Unfortunately, a construction project of this size takes years to complete and the park will not be ready for general use for quite some time. For the moment, the only open attraction in the park is a balloon ride which takes visitors up and over the park to see the the progress being made on the construction. The ride also incorporates views of the mountains and the surrounding county. The ride is free, but visitors must obtain a boarding pass when entering the park.


Articles Los Angeles


guitar_blues_electric_263163_l.jpgAnaheim is located in Orange County, 28 miles southeast of Los Angeles and is best known for being the home of Disneyland, several sports teams and the Anaheim Convention Center.


Disneyland is located in Anaheim, just off Interstate 5 in the heart of Orange County. Disneyland brings millions of visitors to Anaheim each year and is a big part of the reason that Los Angeles is such a popular tourist destination. Disneyland, however, is largely self-contained. Disneyland offers deals on park admission and hotels so that it makes the most sense for visitors to spend as much time as possible in the park or their hotel. Some visitors to Disneyland never see the rest of the city.


Anaheim is California’s 10th largest city and the city hosts many of Orange County’s sports teams. Just down the street from Disneyland, the Anaheim Pond is home to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play their games next door at Angel Stadium.

Anaheim’s sports teams have enjoyed incredible success over the last few years, the Ducks winning the Stanley Cup and the Angels winning in the World Series in 2002.


No, that’s not a typo and no, we’re not going to make snarky comments. OK, there might be a few, but we thought it worth mentioning that Anaheim is the home of that sad, angsty pop sound that is so popular now on the radio. Blame Anaheim for the rising popularity of emo-music and sad-punk that pubescent teens sink into as they grow up. Social Distortion, No Doubt, and many other bands with their own flavor of affected rock come from Anaheim.

Los Angeles

Newport Beach

lagunanewport.jpgNewport Beach is a city at the heart of Orange County with much more personality than the narrow focus of reality shows or teen soap operas have given it in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The main attraction in Newport Beach, as the name suggests, is the beach. The picturesque coast brings tourists in from around the city and the beach is one of the most popular with body boarders and surfers as well. The famous Wedge, a challenging set of waves that break right off the Balboa peninsula, attract surfers and athletes to play in the curling waves.

Articles Croatia

Croatian Adventure Tours

ship_rope_know_271775_m.jpg Adventure travelers have discovered Croatia and they aren’t worried about their sheets’ thread count or mints on their pillows. (Well, some of them are, but we’ve got adventures for them too.) Adventure travel companies have sprung up from the outdoor attractions throughout the country and travelers are flocking to see what sort of stimuli their adrenal gland can find in Croatia.

Here are some of the best outfits offering the most exhilarating and beautiful options for adventure travel, no matter what your sport.


The folks at Cro Challenge provide and promote adventure and conservation through the action sports they allow travelers and locals to take part in. Cro Challenge attracts tourists, but not exclusively, and hosts an Adventure Cup of Adventure races that is growing every year.

Cro Challenge offers mountain biking, sea kayaking and Adventure races in Paklenica, Middle Dalmatia and Dubrovnik.

Huck-Finn Adventure Travel

Huck-Finn Adventure Travel has their fingers in every river in Croatia. They’ve been guiding trips longer than Croatia has been a country and offer some of the best deals on rafting trips in the Balkans. One day trips for $38 and eight day excursions for $550 are some of the most reasonable prices you’re going to find for spending time on water anywhere outside the public pool.

Cliff Base Rock Climbing

On the island of Hvar, these rock climbing and adventure professionals have the skinny on routes at the reservation-only Cliff Base rock center on the southeast corner of the island. Climb directly out of the sea and hang out over the water on these free climbing routes. Cliff Base also has sea kayaking, mountain biking, windsurfing and trekking available.

Explorer’s Corner

Explorer’s Corner takes travelers on a sailing excursion around the Adriatic. “So what,” you say? How is that an adventure?

Well, while most sailing excursions treat the boat as a base camp for drinking, Explorer’s Corner drops its travelers in the best kayaking spots along the route each day. The price tag is a little steep at $3,300, but for a ten day trip the average price is about on par with what you might spend living it up on the mainland. This is the trip for paddlers who want to have a place to sleep each night.

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


paintball.jpgDescribe Croatia and you might come up with adjectives like relaxing, laid-back, chill, even sedate. A typical Croatian vacation consists of hanging out on the beach or people watching in a cafe. But a significant number of people are now turning toward adding thrills to their vacations, and to paintball as a way to get that adrenaline rush.

Paintball has ridden the wave of popularity of other outdoor sports like river rafting and mountain biking and now several companies split the duties of providing outdoor recreation opportunities to the travelers and locals who want to add them to their vacation itinerary.

Most paintball competition in Croatia is outdoor, in fields or forests with built in obstacles and cover for players. Mediterano offers paintball on Korcula island and provides vests and coveralls to help lessen the sting when you get hit. Mediterano advertises paintball as a team-building activity and says that corporate groups receive a huge benefit from the activity. Cause who doesn’t sometimes want to shoot their coworkers with paint?

There are also paintball clubs in Porec, Kustosija and a few leagues that travel up and down the country to play teams from other cities. Czech travel company Dalmacija Tour offers a trip through Croatia emphasizing action sports and adventures, paintball included.

Recreational paintball for travelers is available near any major city in Croatia, although you may have to travel outside the city into the country to actually play. Jarun Lake, outside of Zagreb, for example, runs paintball games on its huge course everyday from 9am to midnight and sometimes later. Dune buggy’s and quads are also available to facilitate an added adrenaline rush.

If you find playing war games in a country that was fighting for its independence only a decade ago a little unsettling, you’re not alone. But be aware that most paintball clubs treat paintball as a game and emphasize having fun over shooting each other. Most call it “marking” each other and paintball guns are “markers.” It’s a small distinction that may seem smaller when you’re crouching through the brush doing your best Rambo impression, but in the end it is just a game. Paintball in Croatia is a response to the demand created by the ban of the sport in Germany. Croatia hosts many German tourists each year and providing paintball is a way for Croatia to give their guests an experience they can’t get in their home country.