Monday, March 28, 2016

4 American Cities With European Vibes

Sometimes, you just want to pack your bags and wake up in a country that eats mostly bread for breakfast—but likely, time and money are keeping you from living this dream. Well, luckily for you, there are ways to get a taste of Europe right here at home—no hopping the pond required. Better yet, some of these towns are among the best places to retire, meaning if you like them, you might just want to stay forever.

Leavenworth, Washington
Have you ever wanted to go to Oktoberfest? Well then, you’re in luck, because Leavenworth, WA—a scenic two-hour drive from Seattle—throws its own every year. Funnily enough, Leavenworth didn’t exactly start out this way—it was an idea that came to fruition in the 60s, when the town was struggling financially and decided to lure in tourists—but the results are so convincing, it’s impossible to dislike. Leavenworth is a little slice of Bavaria, complete with gorgeous German architecture framed by the snowy Cascade Mountains. And if beer isn’t your thing, Christmas is a magical time to visit special holiday-themed shops and eateries.

Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is often referred to as the American Riviera, and for a good reason. The area has been populated since about 13,000 years ago with the first Native Americans, but when the Spanish arrived in the 1700s, they occupied the area in order to spread Christianity. Their influence is still heavily apparent, as a myriad of Spanish Mission-style houses spread among the rolling green hills between the Ynez Mountains and the brilliant blue Pacific Ocean. It’s no wonder Santa Barbara is the best city to retire in!

New Orleans, Louisiana
This one is perhaps a bit of a no-brainer—the French Quarter and beignets are probably a bit of a give-away. This is because NOLA was founded by French colonists, and later become part of the Spanish Empire, meaning its architecture is a blend of French wrought iron balconies and Spanish cottages. The people of Louisiana reflect this international heritage, with the Louisiana Creole people being of Spanish, French, and/or Afro-Caribbean descent, and Cajuns being descended from French exiles from Canada.

Pella, Iowa
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the Netherlands, then look no further than the Midwest. Pella is filled with Dutch-style architecture, right down to its very own windmill, Vermeer Mill, which is the largest structure of its style in the U.S. Lodgings include the Royal Amsterdam Hotel, which you can book for May so you can enjoy their famous Tulip Time Festival—because a Dutch town would not be complete without tulips. Locals celebrate their heritage with Dutch attire, parades, food, dancing, and (surprise!) tulips.

In short, just because you can’t leave America doesn’t mean you can’t get a taste of Europe. Our country is the Great American Melting Pot, after all, and although it’s not always evident, our roots can be found in special places on our own turf. So there’s no time like the present to go out and explore your own backyard!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

When Driving in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is the  biggest  city   near us.  We  have been to this city many times but haven't explored all of it yet.  That is whenever we go on a road trip and get thae chance to see  other parts of it, I take pictures.  These photos were taken when we went on our road trip to Ocean City.  This was on our way back when we got stuck  from traffic.  
 I love looking at the  building structures in Pittsburgh because they are full of interesting and intricate characters.  Every building has it's own style from a  different  era or time in history.
 The  image below  is like a Halloween shot lol.  I believe this is a church I was trying to capture but I was off due to the movement of the car.
 This was the first time we drove  by Carnegie Mellon University.  The GPS took us to a different route because of traffic, even then, we still got trapped on a heavy traffic which my husband was not happy about.
 I hope to walk around the  campus someday.  We have only been to Duquesne UNiversity campus so I am curious about what CMU looks like inside.  It is beautiful outside though.

 Pittsburgh, has so many beautiful churches,  school buildings, hospitals, and  government buildings.
There is so much to see in Pittsburgh.  I think I would be lost  easily if I walk around there.  There's one place I won't be lost  at though, it is the strip district where we frequently go when shopping for asian goodies lol.  

Survival Tips: Negotiating A Long Car Journey With Kids

If you’re planning a road trip this summer, you may be dreading keeping the kids entertained. Long journeys can be notoriously stressful. If you’re eager to eliminate arguments in the back and constant questions about how long there is to go, we can help. Here are some tips to help you survive your road trip and enjoy an incredible family holiday.
Road Trip to Ocean City in 2014
Get sorted in plenty of time

Nothing sets the tone for a fraught car journey like last-minute packing nightmares and delayed departures. Write a list of things that each member of the family has to do. Plan ahead, get cases packed and check that the car is ready and raring to go.

If you’re renting a car for your journey from HotWire for your journey, arrange to collect it a few hours before you plan to set off on your travels.

Plan your route and mark gas stations and potential pit stops. Look out for entertainment venues, sights and attractions along the way. Work out where you’re going to stay and keep your eyes peeled for hotel discounts and coupons for theme parks and movie theatres.
Do a food shop

Before you go, it’s essential to stock up on drinks and snacks. If the children get hungry, they’ll start moaning you could be miles away from the nearest store or cafe. Holidays are for fun and treats, so don’t forget to pack their favourite sweets.

Invest in a portable DVD player and pack games and toys
Driving for long periods of time can get boring, especially for little people. It’s a good idea to keep them occupied with toys, games and films. You could also plan a quiz for your route. Give them clues and encourage them to look out for landmarks or animals, for example. If you don’t have a portable DVD player, download some films onto your tablet before you go.

Stop frequently

Stop every few hours to allow everyone to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Encourage frequent toilet visits to prevent unexpected stops at the side of the highway.

Make the journey part of your holiday

Start your road trip from your house. Incorporate stop-offs at beaches, parks or bowling alleys to get the party started and break up your journey. The kids won’t complain that they’re bored, and you can rest between long spells behind the wheel. Look at the map before you set off and work out where you can stop on your way down to your first destination.

Talk to your kids about their holiday before you go. Get them excited about the different locations and encourage them to follow your journey on the map.

Put some music on

Create a soundtrack for your journey. Choose songs, which everyone likes and get ready to showcase those vocal talents.

Long car journeys can be boring, stressful and fraught. However, they can also be fun. Bear these pointers in mind and try to break up your journey and keep the mood light-hearted and relaxed. Plan ahead and provide plenty of distractions.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How To Keep The Cost Of Your Next Vacation Down

Have you ever noticed that your family vacations end up costing way more than you planned? It's an annoying feature of family vacations that can take away some of the magic, especially once you get home.

The truth, however, is that no matter where you want to go, there are ways to keep costs down. Keeping costs down allows you to travel for longer and it somehow makes the whole experience far more relaxing. Remember, keeping costs down doesn't mean you're going to have a bad time. In fact, it's precisely in those places where costs are lowest that you're likely to have the greatest experiences. So what can be done to stop the price of your next vacation skyrocketing out of control?
Travel In The Off-Season
If the school will allow it (which they probably won't) you can try to book a holiday in an off-peak time of year. Places in Northern Europe and Canada can be beautiful in the Fall, and by that time, the summer is long gone and prices have fallen.
Typically, you can expect to save around 30 percent on the price of lodging by travelling in early October rather than the middle of July.

Keep An Eye Out For Cheap Flights

Have more flexibility in when you travel can help to reduce the price of a family vacation. Last minute deals on flights can often be hundreds of dollars cheaper than booking well in advance and sticking to a regular timetable.
The price of flights also alters depending on the time in the week. Midweek flights tend to be a lot cheaper than flights at the weekend.
You could also consult with your family to find out whether they'd be willing to have stop-offs along the way. Indirect flights also tend to be cheaper than those that go direct.
Let's say that you've got a trip planned to the American north-west for a spot of mountain biking at the world famous Whistler park. Hotel prices can be pretty steep, so you may want to stay away from these.
However, because of their lower price, whistler rentals are becoming more popular. You can rent out your own vacation home or condo and avoid all of the additional costs associated with a hotel.
Plus, having your own place means that you get to do pretty much what you want. You aren't tied to set mealtime, or set food that you can eat. And it's far more conducive to having a good time in the evening with all your friends and family if everyone can gather in a living room.
Vacation Somewhere Less Developed
Travelling around developed countries is expensive. All the prices are much higher because wages are higher. But in poorer countries that have low wages, prices are far lower. It means that as Westerners we get a few benefits.
For a start, the price of food is much lower. This means that eating out can cost as little as 50 cents a person. But it applies to anything that's made locally and not imported, like hotel fees.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cocoa Cruiser at Hershey Park

On the first day  that we went to Hershey Park, the kids were anxious because  they aren't sure if their height will allow them to  go on rides  that they want.  Luckily, they are a bit taller  that they  basically  qualify for most of it.
Whenever we go to an amusement park, I don't go on rides.  MY role is to  watch the things that we  havea nd take photos.  Speed and height is not my jam lol.
 I am  glad however to be with them because I get to see their excitement.
 It's funny that  every time I asked them to pose for me, they complain .  For them, the most important thing is to get to the rides which I  completely understand but I always tell them that it is also important that we  capture the moments so that we can look back to it  afterwards and  see how fun we have had.
 And the moment of truth, measuring the height.  They still miss some of the rides but it's okay.  There is always a next time  for that.
 I agree to do this  one because it doesn't really  require  too much speed and it's on the ground.  I did however had a  bruise after because  someone impacted the one we are riding so hard that  I hit my head on something.  Other than that, it was fun.
The first day was a lot of fun.  The kids did not want to leave afterwards.  ut you know how it goes for us, we ran out of gas  from all the walking and stuff.

High-Adrenaline Experiences In America

Ask anyone who’s taken a trip to America, and they’ll tell you what a diverse and interesting place it is. No matter where you are, you’re sure to bump into fantastic curiosities and friendly, interesting people. Although you can get sun and sand out there, you may want to go for something more exhilarating. If so, you’re in luck! Here are some of the most exciting things to do in America.
Image source: Wikimedia
First off, aerobatic flying. No, that isn’t a typo! This may not be the most family-friendly activity, but it’s certainly something you shouldn’t miss. You probably have no experience with aerial vehicles. However, if you’re in Las Vegas or the surrounding area, you can still have a go at flying a plane! Sign up for this activity, and a trained pilot will take you up in an aerobatic plane. The aerial views of Nevada are breath taking enough as it is. The real thrills will be yet to come though! Certain companies will have a pilot take you through a few exhilarating manoeuvres, and then let you have a go! You wouldn’t have thought it, but loops, barrel rolls and the like are well within your abilities!

This next one’s something the kids will go crazy for. If you’re in the States to experience the cosmopolitanism of New York, then you’ll also be pretty close to the longest zip line in North America. I’d give this a miss if any of you’re afraid of heights though! 600 feet above Catskills valley, you’ll be whizzing across it at incredible speeds. The firms that run New York zip-lining offer a wide range of options. If their most daring packages are too much for you, then there’s still ways you can have a great adventure. Many places will offer you a long mountain tour, including rappelling spots and rope bridges. Catskills valley is a beautiful place, regardless of the rush you’re looking for!

If Vegas and New York are a little too noisy for you, then don’t worry! There are still ways to get your adrenaline fix while taking in the natural beauty America has to offer. White water rafting is not only extremely exciting, but allows you to get up close with nature. People are doing this up and down the country, and odds are you can find a company offering it somewhere in your area. Colorado Rafting has a fantastic reputation. After a little training and safety instructions, you’ll be let lose into the roaring, white spray of a river. You and your family are sure to have a great time tumbling down cascades and over rocks. Even if you find this activity isn’t for you, you’ll enjoy the unique look at nature you get.

If you wanted a little more excitement in your travels, then there you have it! Any of these activities are sure to make your American holiday more memorable. These aren’t the only way to get your blood pumping out there. The choices go much further than this, so look around!

New Caledonia: An Insider's Look at the Culture

One of the most fascinating aspects about New Caledonia is the culture, which combines an intriguing mix of traditions and customs derived from the original inhabitants who are known as the Kanak people, and who now share the island with European, Polynesian and South-East Asian people and contribute to the rich cultural heritage that is clearly evident when you visit the beautiful place.

Kanak culture
You can often find a cruise liner that incorporates a stop at New Caledonia by searching on a cruise comparison site for cruise lines such as Carnival for instance. You will be able to discover for yourself that Kanak culture is based on a combination of oral transmission, exchange, myths and animist legends, with traditions at the very heart of the culture that governs and dictates its social organization.

You will find that Kanak culture is indelibly stamped throughout most things that you see on the island and it is often expressed through numerous art forms.

Tribal membership
Each Kanak member is primarily a member of his particular tribe, which has a hierarchical system, where not only do elders have a prominent position with their society, but where individual ownership does not actually exist, as the land is deemed to belong to everyone and their law of covenants governs sharing.

They have a strong storytelling tradition which is still dominant in their society to this day, and the yam cultivation that goes on throughout the island is considered to bring the rhythm of life to the clan. Yam is also considered to be sacred, being used as a significant gift at major community celebrations and gatherings.

Wood carving
A major form of cultural expression for the Kanak people is wood carving, and you will see artwork created from the high-quality houp wood in the form of totem poles, masks and carved sculptures that often depict humans with an expressive face and a stylized body.

When you visit the island you will also encounter a number of other crafted objects and basketry is a skill practiced mainly by the women tribe members using the theme of objects used in everyday life.

Cultural mix

The descendants of pioneers are known as Broussards and they have successfully forged a mixed identity that paved the way for a lifestyle that is influenced by aspects from Australia, Melanesia and Europe.

You get a true sense of this cultural mix when you consider that depending on the date that you visit New Caledonia, you could be celebrating Chinese New Year with the Vietnamese community or marking the end of Ramadan with the Indonesian community, which all mixes in with activities from the Wallis and Futuna community.

You will find that music is in the soul of Caledonians and they like to dance to rhythms and beats of music from many parts of the world, with a particular fondness for reggae, which is the inspiration behind the local musical style known as Kaneka.

The inspirational surroundings of sea, mountain and plenty of sunshine are major factors in making sport something that is deeply rooted within Caledonian society in general. Football is hugely popular, as is a local version of cricket, and Olympians representing New Caledonia take part in the Pacific Games every four years.

There is no question that when you pay a visit to New Caledonia you will experience a strong feeling of pride and who knows, you might fall in love with the place and decide to live there.  You can always explore the real estate industry there and see what they have to offer.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Get the Best Sleep of Your Life in 3 Easy Steps

To say that getting enough sleep is vital to your health is one of the biggest understatements ever. Being chronically sleep deprived can lead to health issues like weight gain, a decrease in the immune system’s ability to fight off germs and high blood pressure, reports Harvard Health Publications. While some people don’t get enough rest because they are working or taking care of an infant, many others are lacking enough Z’s due to some common — and fixable — issues. To improve your sleep habits and get the best sleep of your life, check out the following tips:

Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
While it might be tempting to sleep in on your days off, resist the urge. Sticking to the same bedtime and wake-up time every day helps regulate your body’s inner clock, which makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you find that you are consistently exhausted in the mornings, improving your sleep hygiene and hitting the hay a bit earlier every night should do the trick.
Make Your Room Dark and Cool
To fall into a deep and restful sleep, you might have to make some changes to your room. The temperature of your bedroom should be cool — as low as 60 to 67 degrees, according to — and it should also be as dark as possible.
As you get into bed, make a thorough assessment of your room and identify other things that might be preventing you from getting a quality snooze. It could be the squeaky ceiling fan, your partner’s freight-train snoring, your beloved dog who noisily chases sheep in his sleep or window coverings that let moonlight and sunlight in. To remedy these situations, use eye shades or ear plugs and get a new ceiling fan, a humidifier or blackout curtains.
Eliminate Electronic Disturbances
If you sleep with your smartphone on your nightstand, chances are good that you have been awakened at least once by a middle-of-the-night text. If you cannot bear to leave your smartphone in another room during the night or you use it as an alarm clock, check to see if your phone has a Do Not Disturb feature. Even smartwatches like the Samsung Gear S2 enable you to schedule specific and recurring times and days to reject calls and silence texts and other notifications.
Setting the Do Not Disturb schedule on most smartphones and smartwatches is easy:
·        Go to Settings, and tap on Sound and Notifications
·        Tap on Do Not Disturb and then Do Not Disturb Schedule
·        Choose your start and end times for your schedule
·        To have it repeat on certain days, tap Repeat and then select the days you want your phone to leave you alone during the night
If you are concerned about an elderly parent or an ill friend or want your children to be able to reach you at any time, you can also select which contacts are allowed to reach you when your phone is in the Do Not Disturb mode.

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