Comporta, the Granary of Portugal

5 Jun

Only one ride from Lisbon travelers are likely to enter the area of Comporta, a picturesque land of paddy fields in Alentejo. Despite the fact Comporta is a small village, the title in sober fact unites six more settlements in the neighborhood, thus providing a wider choice of where to stay and what to see for tourists. Portugal.net, a great travel portal about this country, featured Comporta amongst top places to visit in Alentejo Coast, and it was not for nothing.

For starters, being in vicinity of Portuguese capital with its numerous places of interest and must-see landmarks, Comporta area makes a great spot to rest from urban lifestyle and to enjoy the benefits of countryside. And the latter, by the way, might be perceived at its best. For centuries, local people has been handing traditions of rice cultivation, salt extraction and fishing from generation to generation, retaining racy features of the area. Ultimately, they have created a specific landscape, covered with yellow wildflowers and plains of scarlet poppies with rare cork oaks, and preserved the unique architecture of the area – dumpy little huts, built of pine trees that grew in the local woods, and roofs, covered with reeds from the riverbank. So, the land of Comporta looks indeed racily.

Comporta, Portugal

The other thing that attracts visitors is an abundance of local food markets.  Harvests of zucchini, broccoli and sweet pumpkin are the source of pride for villagers. When summer season approaches, it is impossible not to notice long rows of farmers’ tables and vendors along the highways, overwhelmed with melons, artichokes and tomatoes. Though, the very highlight of agronomy in Comporta is lemon trees, the braches of which really hang down to the ground because of enormously big yellow fruits. Notwithstanding increasing tourists’ inflow, the fertility of Comporta is not damaged, and, in contrast, lures more and more visitors.

Aside from vast fields of vegetables and rice, the villages of Comporta also comprise a nice reserve. In particular, it unites the areas of Comporta (in this case, the village), Pego, Carvalhal, Carrasqueira, Torre, Bresois and Possanco, and appears to be a conservation area. Everything around is preserved as it is, and tourists are even promised to see flamingoes and storks’ nests on the riverbanks. By the way, no cars or big vehicles and welcomed; villagers and guests get around by bikes or extremely popular buggies, so the virgin beauty of Comporta environment remains untouched and not contaminated.

Comporta

However, absence of traffic is not the only issue that draws an attention of townies from Lisbon, and even from Paris and London. Many purchase interestingly designed huts of Comporta for summer vacations, and lots of prominent guests might be noticed in the neighborhood. In recent years villagers frequently recognize the faces of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former President of France, and his wife Carla Bruni, and members of royal Casiraghi family. Thus, even celebrities eagerly enjoy countryside beauties of Comporta from time to time.

 

Some of the best casinos to visit in Australia

8 May

Sydney Opera House by Photo by Diliff, Creative Commons

Sydney Opera House by Photo by Diliff, Creative Commons

Australians love to gamble at the casino, but it has only been legal to do so there since the early 1970s. Nowadays though, there are plenty of superb casinos to visit there. Australia is also the home to one of the oldest online casinos in the form of Gaming Club, and this competition has helped to push the land-based casinos to offer a great selection of games.

Wrest Point Hotel Casino

This is the Australian casino that changed everything ñ as it was the first legal one to open there. Surprisingly you wonít find it in Melbourne, Sydney or any of the other big urban centres ñ it is in Tasmania. There can be few more scenic settings than Sandy Bay, on the edge of the Derwent River, ensuring a stunning place to play (and to stay, if you choose to use the hotel accommodation).

Crown Casino

Melbourne does have a major casino though, and it has become the most popular one in the country. The Crown Casino, with its 2,500 slot machines and 500-plus table games, is where the stars go to game when they are down under. It is the biggest casino in Australia, and somewhere any fan of gaming has to go to at least once.

Crown Casino, Melbourne by Donaldytong (Creative Commons)

Crown Casino, Melbourne by Donaldytong (Creative Commons)

Star Casino

Although the Crown remains the jewel, other Australian casinos have appeared to rival it, with this Sydney one sitting just behind it right now. Here you will find thousands of slots and hundreds of table games, but bingo and poker are areas where the Star really excels.

Adelaide Casino

This definitely has the most unusual location of any Australian casino, as it is inside the rail station building. Found in a section no longer used for travel purposes, it combines a totally modern casino interior with a heritage listed exterior, and this has ensured tourist appeal.

Crown Perth

This is the big up and coming casino in Australia, with plans underway that will see it become bigger than the Star, and only a little smaller than the Melbourne establishment of the same name. Once completed, the Crown Casino in Perth will have 350 table games and 2,500 slot machines, so this is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Travel Bingo Bucket List

25 Feb

Nowadays, it is uncommon to meet someone who doesn’t have a Bucket List. More often than not, the items on the list are places in which the person in question aspires to travel to, dreaming that at some point in their lives, they will get to these places. One way of being able to do that in one sitting is through Travel Bingo. Instead of making a simple list, use a nifty bingo card. Customize a bingo card and replace the numbers with the places that are on your Bucket List. The idea is to mark all the items in your bingo card.

Here are some places that you can include to give you some idea:

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat’s Stunning Temples

Angkor Wat’s Stunning Temples

This iconic place in the engaging town of Siam Reap is one of UNESCO Heritage Sites where wide-ranging programs are in place to protect this symbolic site. With 200 other temples dating back to the 9th and 15th centuries, there’s plenty to explore.

Sydney Opera House, Australia

The Sydney Opera House at Night

The Sydney Opera House at Night

Inspired by orange peels, palm fronds and a Maya temple, Danish Architect Jorn Utzon was able to come up with a landmark that now adorns the city skyline of Sydney along with plethora of lighthouses. This architectural marvel built ahead of its time changed the image of an entire country.

Syros, Greece

Ermoúpoli Village, Syros, Greece

Ermoúpoli Village, Syros, Greece

The only place in Greece where Greek traditions live harmoniously with western influence. Ermoúpoli, the city’s capital is more commonly known as the “Manchester of Greece.” Although this town has obvious western influence, it is worth noting that Greece has influenced the western culture from Olympics to a simple game of bingo. This is evident with the launch of the online bingo site Bingogodz, where players have the chance to collect different gods and goddesses that were patterned after Greek mythology. One distinctive character is Afro Ditty, a clear emulation of Aphrodite, the “Goddess of Love.”

Eastern Island, Chile

The Mysterious Moais of Eastern Island, Chile

The Mysterious Moais of Eastern Island, Chile

Eastern Island or Rapa Nui boasts of 887 monolithic stone heads sprouting from the ground. This island is one of the least inhabited places on earth that still has historians and archeological experts baffled with the presence of these mysterious moais. If you want a beguiling place to visit, head on to this triangular speck amidst the Pacific Ocean.
You are free to add any place that you feel is worth visiting. Once you cover all places on your travel bingo card. You can make another one. Travel is never a journey – it’s a life.

How To Stay Out of Jail

8 Oct

I like to watch Locked Up Abroad. It’s an interesting show, especially if you are interested in prison life in foreign countries. Me? I just like to make fun of the people who are stupid enough to land in jail in the first place. Isn’t it just smart to follow the rules when you’re out of your element and vulnerable? I would think so, but given the fact that LUA is on it’s 8th season or something, there are always going to be those people who just don’t seem to get it. Here are some of my tips for staying out of the slammer and avoiding an appearance on that TV show.

 

 

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

This might sound like a no-brainer, but LUA wouldn’t even exist if not for people doing stupid shit when they’re drunk or high. I know that part of traveling in exotic lands is sampling the local brews and having fun with your friends. No one’s telling you that you have to stop doing that. But just be smart about it. Being  drunk and stupid can get you in a lot of trouble, no matter where you are.

And as far as drugs go? Don’t bother! There are only a handful of places in the world where drugs are legal or tolerated, and you probably know that. That being said, why do the people on LUA always say things like, “I didn’t know 12 kilos of heroin was illegal in Thailand!”. Really? Are you serious? Had you even thought to investigate what might happen to you if you got caught with all that shit? It’s really a no brainer, people. Obviously some people do get away with smuggling drugs, or else there wouldn’t be drugs, but what makes you think that you won’t get caught? Are you really willing to risk years of your life, and the possible end of it, for a few thousand dollars in smuggler’s fees? Is it worth it?

Know the Law

There are laws all over the world. It’s just a fact. The laws can vary widely from country to country, and many countries have laws that are based on religious ideals. Hopefully you’re one of those people that realizes that laws are there for a reason and, no matter how stupid you think the laws may be, you try not to break them. Good for you. However, did you realize that when you’re traveling in another country, those countries’ laws apply to you to?! Even though you’re not a citizen? Yes, it’s true. People go to jail all over the world for things which may sound trivial to you and I, but are very real crimes in those countries. Jaywalking, spitting, chewing gum, sex outside of marriage, the list goes on and on and there are people in jail cells right now for doing one or more of those things. Do you think that they investigated the laws before they visited these countries? Probably not. Or maybe they just felt that the laws didn’t apply to them because they’re foreigners. Wrong. The laws apply to everyone, and you’d be doing yourself and your family and friends a big favor if you just did a bit of homework first.

 

There are many things that I could tell you that might help you avoid jail, but this is the main one… Use your common sense! If it feels wrong don’t do it. It’s just that easy.

Happy Travels!

South America: Three of a Kind

2 Oct

Peru

If you are going to be near Peru and value the little things in life like a lost city that was discovered only within about the last 100 years then Machu Picchu is the place to cross off your bucket list.

Macchu Picchu plateau. Pictures don’t do it justice.

Yes, Peru may have much to offer but its crown jewel is easily this lost city of the mountains. Many travelers will choose to ride in the comfort of a train to view the lost city but if you are itchin’ for an adventure you can still trek the original Inca Trail to view the ruins in the purest form of adventure and discovery.

Ecuador

Ecuador may be one of the smaller countries in South America but don’t take its scenery and possibilities for granted. Through the capitol city of Quito you will find one of the most popular entryways to the Amazon, which covers 40% of this massive continent, touching many countries along the way.

The Amazon Rainforest

Amazon isn’t for the faint of heart, as it is one of the most diverse biological areas on the planet with a host of plants, birds, and (of course) monkeys that are only native to its forests. No need to worry about going in the Amazon blind though, the number of tour companies present are vast. Located in Ecuador, and especially around the capitol city area, are a vast supply of guides with English speaking tours that are used to keeping outsiders safe and informed.

Not in for a hike? That’s fine. You can always visit the Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

Venezuela

Hidden deep within the Canaima National Park, you will find that Venezuela is come to the highest waterfalls in the world. Enter: Angel Falls. Impressive as these falls are to hike to, they are also a leading destination for the ultimate thrill seekers that choose to parachute from the top of the waterfalls.

Angel Waterfalls

No worries if you aren’t a BASE jumper planning on parachuting from the falls, as there is plenty to be seen and much to enjoy. While being guided to the falls you will traverse grasslands, mountains, and rivers to come to the beautiful and various waterfalls with their lagoons that rest at the bottom.

Toucan in Canaima National Park

The wildlife is a splendor for the eye of all of those that aren’t blind. While in the jungle you are sure to be treated to tropical frogs (many of which are poisonous), orchids, and monkeys, to name only a few of the sights. Come on out and enjoy this beautiful oasis if you’re up for the challenge.

Your cultural treasure trove trip to Taipei… that was five t’s in a row… I’m kinda proud right now…

13 Jun

Taipei, Taiwan offers visitors a wide range of events and festivals throughout the year that brings to light its unique cultural identity and history. The city is a blend of indigenous cultures, Taiwanese folk cultures, Chinese culture, and Western-influenced modern culture. There are a variety of cultural attractions. Get cheap flights to Taipei to visit several renowned heritage sites that Taiwan is famous for around the world.

Ancient buildings date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, while much of its modern infrastructure was begun by Japanese colonists who preferred the architectural styles of the West. Further, the religious practices of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism are alive and well in the city, and temples serve both as architectural gems and active places of worship.

Taiwan is a country of fish eaters. Favorite dishes include oysters with black bean sauce, abalone, and cucumber crab rolls, prawns wrapped in seaweed, and clam and winter melon soup. Western influences are found in bakeries and coffee shops in towns and cities. Taiwan is famous for tea, especially the lightly roasted oolong tea.

You must come to taste the Chinese, cuisine which is the most prevailing option for diners. There are numerous venues serving Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and European fare. The best places are in Taipei’s eastern district, particularly along Anhe and Dunhua roads.

The inspiring art galleries of the National Palace Museum hold one of the world’s most impressive collections of ancient Chinese artifacts and artwork. Taipei Fine Arts Museum was the first modern art museum in Taiwan. This place boasts in excess of 3,000 works of art, most of which were created by local artists. Get on a flight to Taipei to visit the Miniatures Museum. The place exhibits a complete spectrum of miniature artwork and include more than 150 doll houses and dioramas, most of which originated in Europe and North America. The exhibits also include a number of scaled-down and antique boats.

Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport is the primary international gateway for visitors to Taiwan. It also serves as a major hub for transport to the eastern region of Asia. Flights like Air China, China Southern, and China Eastern flights to and from this airport connect the city with destinations across Southeast Asia, Europe, the Pacific Islands and North America. There is also a strong current of traffic routed through the airport.

Youth Park is the city’s largest fun area. It is situated along the Xin Dian River in a peaceful, urban green space. Facilities include tennis courts, a swimming pool and a skating rink. The park grounds exhibit several sculptures and other works of art, and a few picturesque pagodas peek up over the trees lining the park’s perimeter.

The Taipei Folk Dance Theater and the Formosan Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe are among several new dance companies that have formed to reconstruct and preserve traditional dances.

So get on over to Taipei and see how many “T” worlds you can use to describe it!

Come Visit Rome

6 Jun

Rome is known for its beauty and marvelous culture. It is the beauty of the Roman culture that has increased its appeal. Roman kings and the glorious history of Rome have spread its glory all across the world. Its recognition all across the globe has given it the nick name of Capital of the World.

It is a destination which must be checked out by everyone who wants to experience the highest level of finesse and cultural value. Tourists can book cheap airline flights well in advance, to ensure that their traveling plans are realized.

Rome’s culture is multi-faceted and has set landmarks in terms of architecture, art, fashion, cinema, religion, language, entertainment, tourism, education, cuisine, sports, religion, language and several other factors. This magnificent place has been recognized as the home of Roman Church.

It was the period of Renaissance that changed the course of the world’s outlook and approach towards arts. This city was one was one of the major acceptors of this change and served as a major hub for the developments of this period.

The place is a major hit among tourists and is so for good reason. Roman architecture and the richness of its cultural treasures have made it a major tourist destination. Each year numerous flights to Rome are filled with tourists, who come from all countries of the world to appreciate and enjoy the beauty of this place. Many leading flights like British Airways and Air France are offering their services to this city.

Roman architectural taste and development can be divided into various periods. Each period has its significance and a major role to play in the development of one of the world’s most fascinating architecture. The ancient Roman architecture has several important monuments like Trajan’s Column and many more. People can come to Rome and see the marvelous Amphitheater. One of the most amazing marvels of this time period is the amphitheater. Other phases include medieval architecture, Renaissance architecture, architecture and fascist architecture.

Roman art, as we see it today is the mixture and collection of various periods and the work of several artists.

Their film and television production facility has the honor of being the largest in continental Europe.

Even food lovers will find a fabulous cuisine option for themselves. They can plan a trip to Rome and enjoy their tasty cuisine. The food is also a representative of their rich culture and the various influences it has had over the years. Greek influence is also very common in their food.

People can enjoy the best of food, art, architecture and so many other things. The vacation will have something to offer to everybody.

Fall in Love with Paris

30 May

Paris is the capital of France and also its largest city. It is one of the most populated metropolitan areas on the continent. Known to be the most romantic city in the world, this is the perfect place for you to have an adventurous, romantic escape.

Summer is the best season for you to visit this city if you are hoping for intimate and quiet strolls around the city. This is because even though it is peak season, it is barely crowded on account of most Parisians having vacated the city for their holidays. Winter season can be cold but snow is uncommon. There is a plethora of  activities for you to enjoy. You need to make reservations for the hotels and restaurants in advance, though. For fashion lovers, winter and fall are the best time to plan their vacation on account of the Fashion Week. Spring is also a lovely time to be in Paris as you get to witness the city in its finest hour.

Flights to Paris land at the Charles De Gaulle Airport, the largest airport in France. It also ranks high in terms of business and aviation. Easyjet provides the best airfares. For bargain hunters, March is the best month to score cheap flights to Paris. BMI, Flybe and British Airways are other airlines offering cheap plane fares.

Paris has an amazing collection of opera houses. The largest of these are the Opéra Bastille and the Opéra Garnier. The former is known for a mixed repertoire of modern operas while the latter is known more for operas and ballets. Opéra-Comique and Théâtre de la Ville are two other active and competing opera houses.

Theatre owns a large niche in the culture of Paris. Bobino and Théâter Mogador are a few of the major theaters of the city which merit a visit. Some theaters of the city also function as concert halls. Édith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Georges and Charles Aznavour are some of the musical legends who gained popularity in such halls. Many of this city’s concert halls have been transformed into movie theaters.

Parisian cuisine is derived from the culinary expertise of its diverse population. Thus, you can say that the city owes it reputation of culinary finesse to its cultural diversity. The cuisine varies seasonally. Salad and fruit dishes are enjoyed in summers while game of all kinds is eaten in the hunting season. You can taste oysters with the arrival of spring.

The museums and galleries of the city are among its most coveted attractions. If you are a history buff you will definitely appreciate the city’s most prized museum, the Louvre. With more than 300,000 strikingly attractive works of art, including Leonardo da Vinci’s world famous Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo, the museum has more masterpieces than a single visit could do justice to. One way to save money is to buy Paris attraction tickets in advance of your trip.

Awesome Festivals in China

23 May

 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival

This festival runs from Jan 5 until mid-February every year in the city of… you guessed it, Harbin (Heilongjiang province). During this festival they build life-sized castles and other structures out of nothing but ice, then they light these structures with vibrant LED lights to illuminate them with vibrant colors. Dress warm.

Yea, that really is all made from ice and snow.

Chinese New Year This celebration is an awesome blast of awesomeness every year in January of February. If you choose to celebrate this Eastern New Year book as early as you can as it is sure to be busy, especially in the busier cities of Shanghai and Beijing. If you show up, be ready for dancing, parades, fireworks, and unique food. Did I mention that there will be fireworks? Sweet…

Chinese New Year… there will be dragons

Torch Festival

This July festival is one of the most popular in southwest China. This year it is from July 31 – August 2 with Liangshan (southwest Sichuan) holding one of the largest Torch Festival celebrations with three days of traditional music / dancing, bull fighting, fireworks, and bonfires… naturally.

So pretty…

Shaoxing Rice Wine Festival

            Need you another excuse to drink? Here it is. This festival held in Shaoxing (northeastern Zhejiang province) every October starts in the middle of the month and usually lasts for about thirty days. Here you will be able to sample the different wine and brews of the area while touring the local brewery or even listen to live music performances.

Rice wine making… like bosses

Three US National Parks That Don’t Suck

16 May

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Now, before you jump into your car to go visit the giant hole in the ground… I must warn you that this is an amazing place to visit if you are to tour the lower canyons. Be it hiking, biking, or going by donkey tour… this is truly an amazing place to visit, with splendor in the lower canyons such as rock formations, rivers, waterfalls, and caves. Pack accordingly, as temperatures in the summer during the day quickly rise in the lower canyons, and can exceed 100 degrees regularly. Someone in your party should be thoroughly skilled in backpacking and navigation before attempting this challenge. But let it be known, the oasis that you will find in the lower canyons makes the trip that much more worth it.

Lower canyon stream

Now, if you plan on just visiting the Grand Canyon for the afternoon and not exploring the lower canyons… you will get bored very quickly. The average visitor I’ve met there was visiting from Las Vegas for the day… which is over a 4.5 hour drive (one way) through 55mph zones and nothing but desert wasteland for as far as the eyes can see. Once you get to the canyons with your van full of children you will find the giant hole in the ground that is the Grand Canyon and then you will be bored with the view after just 10-20 minutes of sweltering heat, with no natural shade for miles in any direction. You will then meander over to some visitor center to get food and lame information. If you stay for even an hour staring at the hole in the ground you may see some birds flying off in the distance waiting for the next living thing to drop dead so it can feast on it. After that hour… be prepared for another 4.5 hour drive in the stark desert as you wonder why you even wanted to come in the first place. Happy travels

Lower canyon waterfall

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (Primarily)

This was the first national park to be established in the United States… and even the first national park established in the world… an idea that soon spread worldwide. 3,400 square miles and 80% covered by forest, also home to the famous geyser Old Faithful, along with over 300 other geysers. Here you will hike and be able to see numerous birds, bears, fish, wolves (an endangered species present in the park), and lynx (threatened species in the park) among the 67 different types of mammals present in the park. This is a true piece of U.S. wilderness.

Yellowstone hot spring

Glacier National ParkMontana (Primarily)

762 lakes rest within the boundaries of this park. 563 streams run through it. Over 1,500 square miles of this beautiful park are there for you to take in. This park has 175 mountains and 25 named glaciers. Words and pictures cannot truly express the beauty that resides in this park. I was there in August and we hiked through grass-covered valleys in shorts and t-shirts as we looked upon the mountains that were capped with snow. The mountain goats will come right up next to you on the trail. This is one of the prettiest places I have ever been in my life and I most certainly plan on returning if ,you know, I’m still alive and healthy and whatnot.

This is Glacier National Park

 

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