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Winter Vacation Destinations

When your toes turn purple and your eyelashes sprout icicles, you know it’s time to head south for the winter. The birds do it, so why shouldn’t you? Stop, now, before you break your back from shoveling one more pile of snow, and consider some exotic locales for winter getaways where the only mounds of white you’ll being seeing are of the hot, dry, and sandy variety.

Speaking of white, sandy beaches, a trip to Antigua, or its neighboring island Barbuda may be just what you need in order to restore feeling to your toes. Every water sport lover’s dream, the Caribbean nation boasts of at least 365 beaches surrounded by clear blue waters with an average temperature of 80 degrees. Trade your snow boots for fins, and snorkel through spectacular coral reefs, maybe even catching a glimpse of the wreck of the merchant ship Andes, which has rested on the bottom of Deep Bay since 1905. If you’d rather not get your feet wet, you can enjoy all that the charming capital St. John’s in the northern part of the island of Antigua has to offer. Purchase colorful local artwork while strolling down Market Street or fortify yourself with sweet black pineapple (which isn’t really black) and some local rum. Watch a spectacular sunset over English Harbour on the summit of Shirley Heights while tapping your feet to the rhythms of a steel band. If you would prefer to watch birds instead of people, then head north to the tiny island of Barbuda, which has only a single village of 1100 people but is famed for its frigate birds and huge rookery.

If Antigua’s cricket-playing and English-speaking ways bring up unpleasant memories of Britain’s colonial imperialism, perhaps its time to head to Rio de Janeiro for a little taste of the party-loving legacy of Portuguese imperialism in Brazil, the largest country in South America. Lying on the Bay of Guanabra, the city, which is most well-known for its pre-Lenten festival of wantonness, “Carnaval,” also prides itself on 75 miles of coastline. Do words like Ipanema or Copacabana ring a bell? Yep, they’re both in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians in the city party hard and pray hard. After dancing all night at a samba club, look into the sky and enjoy the slightly surreal sight a 128 foot, 1,000 ton statue of Christ the Redeemer hovering over the city proudly at the top of Corcovado Peak.

If Rio’s religious version of the Statue of Liberty has you feeling faintly guilty for deserting your home country in the midst of winter, perhaps Perth, Australia will provide the English-speaking taste of home (with an exotic flair) that you need. Kick back and ride the waves in the Western Australia’s isolated capital, nestled between a blue, blue ocean and a dry, sandy desert. Getting there is half the adventure, consisting of a 4000 km car ride from Sydney or a long and winding train ride on the Indian Pacific. Explore the Swan River and the 400-hectare King’s Park in the south, magnificent nineteenth-century buildings constructed using convict labor in the city center, or perhaps travel north to swim with the dolphins at Monkey Mia.

If Perth leaves you feeling a little isolated, perhaps a trip to the modern island city of Singapore, with a population of approximately 4.5 million, will help alleviate your winter doldrums. With not one but four official languages—Chinese, Malay, Tamil, and English—the country offers a delightful blend of ethnic influences. Enjoy a bowl of hot noodles followed by your favorite curry. Buy a sari in Little India on a Sunday evening or sip on herbal tea in Chinatown. Or perhaps enjoy the sights on a cable-car ride to Sentosa Island, the sight of a thrilling amusement park.

If Sentosa Island puts you in mind of childhood yearnings for the Magic Kingdom, perhaps a trip to the sub-tropical Sunshine State may be just the cold remedy you are looking for. The Magic Kingdom isn’t the only amusement park in central Florida. Choose from the likes of Universal Studies, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney-MGM Studios, Sea World, Busch Gardens, or Cypress Gardens, all within a short drive of each other. Florida is all about the tourist industry, and travelers can find some great winter travel deals if they shop around. Wherever you decide to go this winter, don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a bathing suit, and your favorite book. Warmth and relaxation wait just a few thousand miles away.

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Now, An Easier Way To Visit China


China’s popularity as a vacation destination is booming.
Not only is China a new World Trade Organization member and host to the 2008 Summer Olympics, the country is also projected to soon be the number-one travel destination, according to the World Tourism Organization.

City Tourist Attractions

This fascinating country has much to offer travelers. China‘s capital of Beijing is home to the mysterious Forbidden City and some of the best-preserved sections of China’s Great Wall. The city of Xian hosts one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures, the Terra Cotta Warriors; and Shanghai offers gleaming skyscrapers and designer boutiques side by side with the historic Old Town.

Yangtze River Wonders

Although many tourists come to China to see these key sights and shop, travelers who limit themselves to the cities miss one of China’s most amazing treasures-her life blood, the mighty Yangtze River. Flowing 3,964 miles, the Yangtze is the world’s third-longest river, carving its way through the stunning “Three Gorges” on its way to the world’s largest dam. By combining a land trip with a river cruise along the Yangtze, tourists can witness the misty mountains and sheer cliffs of these famed Three Gorges, the engineering marvel of the Three Gorges Dam and turquoise waters of the Lesser Three Gorges, as well as catch a glimpse of China’s traditional culture, from farmers plowing with water buffalo to colorful pagodas clinging to the cliffs.

Language Barriers And Food

Many potential travelers to China are concerned about the language barrier and “fried rice syndrome”-day after day of the same, poor-quality food. With the combination of a Yangtze river cruise and key city tours in Beijing, Xian and Shanghai in one package, however, a cruise-tour solves these concerns while offering the best of China’s attractions. The leader in the industry, Viking River Cruises, offers four different China cruise-tours for the traveler. Each is all-inclusive with intra-China air, English-speaking guides who escort travelers from airport arrival to departure and hotel stays in five-star/best-in-city properties. The company has operational offices in both Beijing and Chongqing that ensure the menus offered during the tours are of high quality and variety, and regularly reviews all aspects of the land tours, from hotels and restaurants to their own team of experienced guides.

For the cruise portion of Viking River Cruises China itineraries, travelers sail on Viking Century Sky or Viking Century Sun, the newest, most luxurious ships on the river. Both ships feature all-outside cabins, each with a private balcony. The company is unique in China in offering onboard Swiss management to oversee operations, plus Western food alternating with Chinese menus by celebrity chef Martin Yan.

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An Ontario Vacation

An Ontario Vacation

PSD PNG A DI DA PHAT QUAN THE AM GUANYIN BUDDHA 1009
Source: Flickr

The uniqueness of Canada’s provinces makes each one worth visiting. Whether you like to ski or swim, fish or golf, visit national monuments or museums, Canada has it all in one beautiful, thirteen-province country.
One of the most popular travel destinations in Canada is Ontario, a metropolitan centre of industry and culture. With a population of more than 12 million, Ontario is home to about one in three Canadians, eighty per cent of which live in urban centres, largely in cities on the shores of the Great Lakes.
What is Ontario weather like?
Ontario weather varies greatly.
In the summer, temperatures can soar above 30°C (86°F), while in the winter temperatures vary greatly depending on what part of the province you are in. For example, in the south of Ontario like in Toronto, temperatures often go down to -12°C (10°F) in the winter months (December, January, February) whereas the winters are colder still in a northern city like Timmins, Ontario. All areas of Ontario receive snow in winter yet have warm comfortable summers.
What can we do in Ontario?
Every year, Ontario tourism revolves around three major places, Toronto, Ottawa, and Niagara Falls.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest in North America. Some of the key attractions of the city are the CN Tower, the Harbour Front, the Skydome, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Toronto Zoo.
Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, offers a variety of fun activities and museums to fill your day. The Ontario tourist cannot leave Ottawa without visiting Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, and the National Gallery.
Known as the honeymoon capital, Niagara Falls is one of Ontario’s main tourist attractions. Twelve million tourists flock here every year to witness the wonder of the three major falls—American Falls (1060 feet wide, 176 feet high), Bridal Veil Falls (1060 feet wide, 176 feet high), and Canadian Horseshoe Falls (2600 feet wide, 160 feet high). Niagara Falls is open and active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Other places of interest for tourists in Ontario are St. Lawrence Market, Ontario Science Centre, Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, the Toronto Islands, and the Stratford Festival.
Can we go fishing in Ontario?
Of course! Ontario has the largest fresh water lakes in the world and a huge diversity of fish, making it the best place in the country for a fishing trip. However, make sure to familiarize yourself with all the regulations regarding Ontario fishing before planning your trip. Contact the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for full licensing details.
Are there any Ontario resorts?
Ontario resorts are in abundance. Many are beautiful waterfront properties nestled in forests, providing the perfect setting for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a fishing trip.

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Kayaking to glory – cleaving through the Barrier Reef

Kayaking to glory – cleaving through the Barrier Reef

Copa Amistad Argentina-Chile de Frontón
Source: Flickr

On his desert island, Robinson Crusoe had made a Kayak (the English call it canoe) so big that he couldn’t pull it to the sea. Thankfully, today we have lighter versions made of fiberglass, polyethylene, Kevlar, carbon fibre, Royalex or hand-built systems like the ‘skin-on-frame’ varieties. Today, kayaking is an immensely popular sporting and entertainment activity, and is catching up fast around the world. And Great Barrier Reef allows one of the most exotic and fantastic kayaking trips in the whole world.

The world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef stretches over 2000 kilometers, hugging the Queensland coast of Australia throughout. It is so big that it is even visible from space! Called the largest living animal, the coral reef and the coral islands are actually the living bodies and dead shells and deposits of billions of corals – in the whole Great Barrier system, there are 900 islands and 3000 coral reefs. While the Europeans first came to know of the Reef as late as 1770 when Captain Cook ran aground it, Indigenous Australians knew about it from the beginning.

The corals of the reefs provide a huge natural breakwater, making sure the water is rather calmer that it would have been before the birth of the reef. This has been a godsend for kayaking. While whitewater kayaking is much more tumultuous, most of the tourists trying their hands at sea kayaking at the Reef are either new to it, or only modestly experienced. Therefore, the relatively placid water makes for easier kayaking and fewer capsizing (and less disturbing of corals). The waters allow the kayaks to be relatively more flat bottomed, allowing for better floatation stability. But even if you tumble, don’t worry, don’t worry even if you don’t know the ‘eskimo roll’. The kayak would stay afloat. Besides the guides and helpers from the kayak company would be nearby.

The kayaking opportunities are many around the Cairns, Palm Cove area. From Palm Cove, one can paddle around the resort Island of Double Island. One can also take a walk on the private beaches, provided the touring company has asked permission for this. A holiday destination for the rich and the famous, Double Island has better attractions in the form of dolphins, turtles, manta rays, and other marine life. Other parts of the island include beautiful tropical gardens, where you can have a relish of delightful tropical fruits, or have a nice cup of coffee or tea. One can get stunning views of the coast, Cape Tribulation and Daintree from this location.

But perhaps the greatest charm of kayaking on the Great Barrier Reef is the close proximity with the corals. The millions shades of colors, the bewildering shapes, the swaying tips of live corals and the surprising encounters with flighty fish shoals (with god knows how many millions fishes in them!) are unique experiences. As you sink in a pleasant sunset from the water, you might feel like never returning. Some try a compromise – there are some liveaboards where you can stay for a few days if you don’t feel like leaving!
The Great Barrier Reef is a fragile environment, and is heavily regulated. One must make sure that the ecological balance and the sanctity of the reef is maintained so that you and I may enjoy this heavenly gift for all time to come.

The reef is a huge stretch of wonder and can be accessed from anywhere. But the best access point is probably from Cairns area, another charming place around 25 minutes from Palm Cove that can keep you busy with sights, sounds and activities for a fortnight. And visitors to Double Island can stay at the Sanctuary Palm Cove which is situated just across a narrow channel of the Great Barrier Reef which provides luxurious accommodation facilities to add comfort to the trip.

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Australia: A Few Things To Do On Your Visit

Australia: A Few Things To Do On Your Visit

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Source: Flickr

You will have many choices of things to do when you visit Australia. Here are just a few ways to spend your time in this lovely place:

It would be a shame to visit Australia without spending time on one of the gorgeous beaches. Along the coastline of Australia there are miles and miles of unbelievably beautiful sandy beaches. Sydney alone has nearly 40 ocean beaches and you will be able to sunbathe and enjoy the beauty of the water and the sand. If you love the ocean air and want to return home with a lovely tan, be sure to plan for time on the beach.

Take a bushwalk and you will glimpse flora, fauna and all kinds of bird life. Bushwalking is a popular pastime in Australia and the parks are fantastic. You will get a little exercise and some stunning photos as well.

If you are a lover of wine, Australia is the place for you. Arrange a visit to a country vineyard and sip some of the finest wines in the world.

Shoppers, you are in luck! Look for fashionable leather clothing, woolen goods, arts and crafts and gifts made from sheepskin. You will be able to go home with at least one suitcase filled with terrific gifts and souvenirs. Choose some unique gifts that you will never find other places.

Sooner or later you are bound to get hungry. After all the shopping, sightseeing and wine tasting you will need to eat. Fresh ingredients are emphasized in contemporary Australian cuisine. You will find all kinds of menu choices that feature fish and seasonal vegetables. Every state in the country has specialties and you will find many excellent choices.

For those who love the water there are numerous activities. You can snorkel, scuba dive, water ski and wind surf.

Visit Australia for an amazing experience.