Monday, March 3, 2008

Winter resort: Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler, what and where it is

Whistler is a popular winter in British Columbia, Canada. It is located about 125 km north of Vancouver in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains. It seems the resort was named after the hoary marmots which live in the area. Hoary marmots are squirrels and is one of the largest squirrel. Its nickname "the whistler" originated from its habit of issuing high-pitched warning to alert other hoary marmots of danger.

Whistler as a ski resort

According to Wikipedia, Whistler has been voted among the top destinations in North America by major ski magazines for the past 15 years and its pedestrian village has won numerous design awards. Whistler will host the 2010 Winter Olympics. If you plan to go for the 2010 Winter Olympics, my opinion is that you book your Whistler accommodation as booking is expected to be heavy and if you wait till the last minute, you will probably not be able to find the accommodation you want.

Whistler attractions

However, you don't need to wait for the 2010 Winter Olympics to enjoy Whistler winter resort and you don't even need to wait for winter. In summer, you can go hiking in mountain paths (guided), fishing in various attractive fishing locations, go boating, mountain biking, whitewater river rafting, practice your golfing skills, perhaps even try horseback riding.

However, the major attractions of Whistler is during winter when you can go for skiing or snowboarding, tubing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling (as an environmentalist, I hope you wouldn't go for that), fishing, horse-drawn sleigh riding and cross-country skiing if you have the stamina and the patience.

Whistler accommodations

Whistler accommodation, British Columbia, CanadaAmong various kinds of Whistler lodging are condos, slope side luxury homes, town homes and ski chalets. Many of them are ski-in, ski-out accommodations located right at the edge of the snow covered slopes from which you can just step right out of the door and be a few steps from your skiing pleasures. An example is the Benchlands Marquise which also offers common hot tub and pool. However, description of this accommodation says it has "ski-in/ski-out access just across the street, so it is not exactly ski slope right at the door steps. However, search hard enough or make some enquiries, I am sure you will find something.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

London, a world City?

There are cities and there are cities. What I mean is, most cities are run-of-the-mill cities but others are international cities which are center of commerce, finance, education and great tourist attractions. These are what I would call world cities much visited by businessmen, government and other officials, diplomats, and of course, tourists.

London, once capital city of the world

There was a time when London was the center of an empire on which the sun never set, and my country was a part (colony) of that empire. When my country did not have a Patent office, I had to file (and successfully obtained) for a patent from the London Patent office via a London patent agent. My country still has plenty of ties with London. Many of our important personalities and leaders obtained their tertiary education form London, including many of the royalties and former Prime Minister. Many parents from my country send their children to London for their education. When it comes to graduation time, expect them to make a bee line to attend their children's graduation ceremony (convocation).

For them, I would suggest that they book their accommodation in advance, preferably online via websites like London Hotels. I am giving this advice from personal experiences from travel around Europe during the time when the word Internet or World Wide Web hadn't even been coined yet.

One hotel I may consider would be Covent Garden Hotel London. From this site, the hotel had been described the City’s business center, Soho and the Royal Opera House being within walking distance. Plus it seemed to be furnished with lots of modern gadgets like CD system, cellular telephone, voicemail, etc. as well as having spacious rooms and luxurious bathrooms, etc. However, that is a 5 star hotel, and I doubt I can afford or be willing to pay its room rates although those with deeper pockets and/or willing to pay for what they want may have different perception.

Maybe I would go for 1 star hotels like Ascot Hyde Park Hotel London. It is near the famous Hyde Park and not very far from Oxford Street.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vacation in the sun on the beaches in Turkey

Childhood memories are sweet memories. Vivid pleasant memories of childhood times when I and me fellow Boy Scouts camped by the seaside. I also remembered the time when I and my childhood friend cycled 20 plus miles to be by the seaside. For we folks who don't live by the seaside, sight of the sea and the beaches are a fascinating change from the monotonous sight of concrete buildings.

Now still city bound, you will no doubt understand why city bound folks will like to experience a beach holiday from a rental beach villa. I don't think they, after getting used to the comforts of their urban "palaces" will want to enjoy the fun we had camping by the sea shore while young, budget constrained and hardy.

Vacation on the beaches in Muslim majority countries

I live in a Muslim majority country and can understand why they would prefer to travel to Muslim majority countries for their vacations. I think the major reason will be it will be much easier for them to get halal (kosher) food, food suitable for Muslims. What the possible Muslim majority countries they can go to for a vacation on the beaches?

Now while we may be discussing vacations in Muslim majority countries, I am sure many world citizens do not uses religion as a criteria as to where they want to go for their vacations, so the countries listed below are not exclusively for Muslims.

Vacation on the beaches in Muslim majority Turkey

Turkey, or more accurately, the Republic of Turkey is located in the Anatolian peninsula in western Asia and Thrace (Rumelia) in the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. According to Wikipedia, 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim, of whom over 75% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam.

Now where can you enjoy Vacation in the sun on the beaches in Muslim majority Turkey? Well, the Turkish Aegean Coast is one possibility. In fact, tourism industry is increasingly an important industry for Turkey and other than the variety of archaeological and historical sites, the seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean coasts are its principal attractions for tourists. Among many possibilities, one of the possibility is to bask on a sunny beach from a villa on the Turkish Aegean Coast. If you prefer the Mediterranean coasts, you can easily book a beach front villa for a Turkish Mediterranean holiday and enjoy the Turkish Mediterranean cuisine at the same time.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Europe tour in the 70's

I had the good fortune of getting a Belgium government scholarship to do my post-graduate studies at the University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium, in the 70's. I was married then with a child. My family accompanied me for the whole duration of my studies. The Belgium government and the University were generous. Not only was my fees paid for, I was given ample allowance plus married students accommodation at a married students apartment plus meal vouchers to eat for free at the nearby University canteen. I enjoyed the food there.

Not only that, I was able to take my family on tour to various European cities, including London and Rome.

Tour to London

For the tour to London, we went to Ostend on the Belgium coast, took the Hovercraft over the English Channel to Dover, then a train ride to London. There was no such thing as Internet then, so I had to waste precious tourist time hunting for accommodation upon arrival. Had Internet been invented before then, I would probably have used an online accommodation booking site like Easy to Book London Hotels. I was a student then traveling on a budget, so had to stay at budget Bed and Breakfast accommodation then. Had I the funds, I might have stayed in luxury 5 star hotels like Connaught Hotel London located in the fashionable Mayfair district with many antique shops, churches and public garden. On the other hand, I wondered if I would really have as I hate waste and even if I am a millionaire, my not pay top dollars for such luxury which will be seldom used as most of the time, I probably be out visiting places of interest instead.

Tour of Rome

I and my family visited Rome with a stop-over at Switzerland. If I remembered correctly, we traveled on a train using the Eurorail pass and stayed at what they called pension. Can't remember exactly what that means except probably cheap. I can also recall the time wasted hunting for suitable accommodation upon arrival then. If I ever get to visit Rome again, I will probably use Easy to Book Rome Hotels to book my accommodation online.

What else do I remember of our Rome tour. The most vivid memories are those of food - Italian food. I remember eating at the roadside, watching my meal come out direct from the oven. I remembered calzone, the fold-over pizza that looks like a giant version of my country's bit size curry puffs. I remember the delicious lasagne, alternate layers of white pastry and fillings baked in the oven. The white pastry looks pretty much like our "chee cheong fun". Other places I remember visiting are the catacombs, the run-down Colloseum, Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Trevi fountain. Don't think I threw any coins into the Trevi fountain though, so if the legend that says you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the Trevi fountain is true, then the chances of me returning to Rome is not too good. We didn't miss the Vatican City, but that is supposed to be another country, not a part of Rome although it is situated right in the middle of Rome.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Driving in Scandinavia: Tips and Tricks

Scandinavian Countries

Scandinavia ia located on the Scandinavian Peninsula in the northern part of Europe. The countries which make up Scandinavia include Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The "borderline" Nordic countries are Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands which have close historic and cultural relations to Denmark, Norway and Sweden and thus some considered as part of Scandinavia.

Driving in Scandinavia

The first time I got tangled with a Scandinavian country is I think Sweden found that by getting all cars to have their headlights on even during daytime, the number of accidents were reduced. My country followed partly by requiring motorcyclist, which bear the highest risk of fatal accidents, to also keep headlights on at all time, including daylight. Now I found out that this rule of keeping headlights on 24 hours don't only apply to Sweden, but throughout Scandinavia. However, headlights must be dipped, meaning no highlights. In my country, only the front driver and passengers are required to belt up. In Scandinavia, passengers in the back seats are also required to use seat belts. Driving in my country follows United Kingdom, on the left. In Scandinavia, vehicles have to drive on the right. I have had a taste of it in Belgium when I had to hire a car to fetch my family from the airport in Brussels. They too drive on the right. It felt pretty strange and one have to try hard not to end up on the wrong side of the road. Plus in crossing the street, one have to be extra attentive as pedestrian crossing a road have to pay extra attention to different direction of the road. Requirements for motorcyclists are the same. All must wear safety helmets, although many in the rural and less accessible areas in my country ignore this rule.

As in many countries, driving under of influence of alcohol, drugs, euphoriants, plus using a hand phone while driving, all are an offence. Difference is, if you are caught in Scandinavia, the penalty is very heavy.

Speed limits on highways differs from country to country. It is 130km/hr in Denmark, 90km/hr to 100km/hr in Norway, 110km/hr in Sweden. Where traffic are heavy, roads near cities or for treacherous roads, lower speed limit will apply. Speed limit On smaller roads throughout Scandinavia is between 70 to 80 km/hr. It is 30 to 50 km/hr within residential areas.

Why drive in Scandinavia

Yes, why bother to drive around Scandinavian countries. Very simple answer. They have excellent roads with easy to understand traffic signs.The scenery is beautiful and makes for a very memorable experience. See example in the photo below:

Scandivania countryside
Photo of Scandinavia countryside is property of Johnny Knoxville

Nearly all highways in Denmark and Sweden are free. Motorists only pay toll for using the Great Belt Bridge between Sealand and Funen in Denmark, and the Öresund Bridge between Malmö in Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmo in Sweden
Photo of Oresund Bridge is property of Emil Erlandsson

The Oresund Bridge carries a two-track rail plus a four-lane road across the Oresund strait joining the Danish capital of Copenhagen with the Swedish city of Malmö. How much you pay to use the Oresund Bridge depends on the type of vehicle.

Toll collected from tolled highways in Norway, however, is used for maintaining the quality of the roads and tunnels. As of 2007, there are 45 road tolls in Norway.


The Kingdom of Sweden is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe bordering Norway in the west and Finland in the northeast. Sweden is a member of the European Union. If I were to visit Sweden, I would not repeat the mistake of the past and only start hunting for accommodation upon arrival. I would book accommodation ahead of arrival from websites like Sweden Hotels.

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden, the seat of the national Swedish government and the Swedish Parliament. The official residence of the Swedish monarch is also in Stockholm. Here is an interesting part of Stockholm: Skeppsbron. Skeppsbron is as street and a quay in Gamla Stan, the oldest part of Stockholm. Skeppsbron starts from the bridge Strömbron in front of the Royal Palace and stretch southward to Slussen.

Skeppsbron Stockholm SwedenPhoto of Skeppsbron, Stockholm, is property of Etienne Cazin

Online booking of accommodation is available from Stockholm Hotels.


The Kingdom of Norway, a constitutional monarchy in the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula of Northern Europe is neighbor of Sweden, Finland, and Russia. It is a long and narrow country. Norway has a long coastline along the North Atlantic Ocean its famous fjords.

Sunrise Oslo Fjord, Norway
Photo of Sunrise Oslo Fjord is property of Jim G

Online booking of accommodation in Norway is available from Norway Hotels

Oslo is the capital city of Norway and the third-largest Scandinavian city after Stockholm and Helsinki. The City Hall of Oslo is where the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held, and is a world event. The Holmenkollen ski jump is the venue for the Holmenkollen ski festival and was where the 1952 Winter Olympics was held. At Bygdøy, a peninsula on the western side of Oslo, is the Fram Museum where the ship Fram is housed. Fram was probably the strongest wooden ship ever built and was used in expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions by the Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen, Otto Sverdrup, Oscar Wisting, and Roald Amundsen between 1893 and 1912. Fram It was designed by the Norwegian shipwright Colin Archer for Fridtjof Nansen's 1893 Arctic expedition. At Bygdøy you can also find the Viking Ship Museum with ships from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune.

Among the other attractions of Oslo are Akershus Castle and Fortress, Norsk Folkemuseum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History at Bygdøy, The Armed Forces Museum, The Historical Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Holmenkollen Ski Museum, Holmenkollen, The Kon-Tiki Museum, Bygdøy, The Munch Museum, Tøyen, The river Akerselva, The National Gallery, The Norwegian Maritime Museum, The Oslo City Museum, The Royal Palace, The Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Oslo Cathedral, Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, The Storting, parliament building, The Vigeland Park in the Frogner park (Frognerparken), Tryvannstårnet, Hovedøya and Ullevål Hageby.

Online booking of accommodation is available at Oslo Hotels.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cheapskate guide to cheap flight tickets

I am shouting to the world, I am a cheapskate. I hate waste and have no use for expensive air tickets for luxurious air travel. Actually I am no stranger to air travel on full service (and obviously not so cheap ticket) airlines. One was to Los Angeles, but that was a sponsored ticket for which I paid $0.00. Another one was to London, but that was a necessary trip to the United Kingdom Patent Office to conduct patent search. Online patent search plus budget airlines were non-existent then. Now both are available, and that is good news for cheapskate like me.

Budget air tickets for Australian residents

I don't reside in Australia, but I have some relatives in Melbourne and Sydney plus my sister and family often travel to our "home" country recently for our niece wedding plus of course, to see their grandchildren. They looks like they are well-to-do enough to visit other countries for holidays not too infrequently. Further, I have a brother-in-law plus sister-in-law who frequently travel to Sydney to visit their children in Sydney and their children often come back to our "home" country for holidays, etc. I don't know if they are a cheapskate like me who is on the lookout for cheapskate air tickets, but I would definitely draw their attention to this Australian website which claims they have recently massively overhauled the flights section making it easy to find cheap flights from Australia without having to click through too many painful search fields.

Cheap flights to Los Angeles

Los Angeles (L.A.) is the largest city in the state of California and the second-largest in the United States of America. That is where I went on a sponsored ticket (nothing can be cheaper to a cheapskate like me $0.00). According to Wikipedia, the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana metropolitan area is home to nearly 13 million people who hail from all over the globe and speak more than a hundred different languages!!! 100 languages. I think that beats even India. Like a little boy, I wandered over to Anaheim Disneyland to enjoy the wonders meant for children. I would love to visit the Crystal Cathedral started by Reverend Dr. Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, practically from scratch. Dr. Schuller is not only a Christian pastor, but a great motivator as well. I missed that as at the time I visited Los Angeles, I did not know about the Crystal Cathedral, or more likely, it wasn't built yet. It has an appealing mission statement: "Find a need and fill it; find a hurt and heal it" and I believe Crystal Cathedral is doing exactly that.

Crystal Cathedral Orange Grove
Photo of Crystal Cathedral is property of Ilpo's Sojourn

If you are an Australian, Cheap flights to LA says they can help you quickly find cheap air flight tickets to get there.

Cheap flights to London, United Kingdom

London too is no stranger to me, and I visited London in an almost cheapskate way too. I had a Belgium government scholarship to do my post-graduate studies in Ghent, Belgium. So my plane tickets are fully paid, accommodation plus food and allowances, fees, are provided for by the Belgium government. I just need to add a little for a trip to Ostend, took a Hovercraft to Dover and a train to London. Allowance paid for that, so it is cheapskate enough. However, if you are an Australian and you don't have a Belgium government scholarship, I am afraid you will have to depend on Cheap flights to London.

Cheap flights to Fiji

Fiji (Republic of the Fiji Islands), is an an archipelago of about 322 islands west of Tonga, east of Vanuatu, and south of Tuvalu, and not too far from Australia. With prediction of rising ocean caused the the environmental problem of the century - global warming, if you want to visit Fiji, you may have to be fast before it is partially of fully submerged. Again, if you are an Australian in a hurry, Cheap flights to Fiji. May I wish you all the best. From a confirmed cheapskate and hoping you don't get offended by this frequent reference to "cheapskate" as I see nothing wrong in being a cheapskate. In fact, I hate those who waste our Earth limited natural resources or squander money unnecessarily.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Portugal, a country I missed during my European tour

Why I would like to visit Portugal if I get the chance

One thing forever etched in my mind about Portugal is the Portuguese professor whom I met at a student hostel in Ghent, Belgium. He asked me: "Do you know what is the Portuguese term for tea. When I plea ignorance, he gave me the answer - cha. Hey, that is exactly the Chinese word for tea!!! Further, he offered to share his piece of Camembert cheese with me (anyway, I believe it is Camembert cheese, those that have a white coating over the cheese). He cut a piece of it and offered it to me. I ate the whole piece. No, he said. You are not supposed to eat the white coating! Alarmed, I ask him if I will remain alive. No worry, I should be OK. He was right. Here I am preparing this post about Portugal for publishing.

Anyway, it aroused in me an interest in Portugal and things Portuguese. Here are some of the things I know. Portugal is of course right next to Spain in the Iberian Peninsular. Portugal has what they call Oceanic climate in the north and Mediterranean climate in the south and one of the warmest European countries. Just nice for people like me who hates to wear winter clothing to go outdoor. The islands of the Azores in the Mid-Atlantic and the Madeira archipelago in the north Atlantic Ocean are also part of Portugal.

Portugal is a popular tourist destination for European countries and have been attracting more than 12 million tourists annually. Lisbon, the Algarve and Madeira are the major tourist draw, but new areas like the Douro Valley, Costa do Sol, Porto Santo Island, Douro Sul, Alentejo, Templários, Dão-Lafões, Costa Azul and Planície Dourada are being developed, although still relatively unknown.

I wished I had visited Portugal when I was in Portugal, but being a poor student, have to limit my travel. After experiencing the hassle and time wasting task of hunting for suitable accommodation, especially those that suit my limited budget, I will always depend on online accommodation booking sites like Portugal Hotels to reserve where to lay my sleepy head when it is time to sleep before I even step out of the front door.

Lisbon, capital city of Portugal

Lisbon is the capital city, and like any capital city, is also the largest city of Portugal. If mild climate is what you like, Lisbon has one of the mildest climate of all European capitals. If you are interested in heritage, visit Baixa (Downtown or city center) which is currently being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You may see old hands still practicing their crafts like the Baixa shoemaker you see in the photo below:

Baixa Lisbon Portugal shoemaker
Photo of Baixa shoemaker is property of Andy Weisner

Among Lisbon attractions are the historic neighborhood of Belém with its grand Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Bairro Alto, a residential, shopping and entertainment district with its nightlife, Punk, Gay, Metal, Goth, Hip Hop and Reggae scenes and thus the center of Lisbon's youth, Gare do Oriente, the main transportation hubs of Lisbon for metro, trains, buses and taxis and the distinct 1930s Lisbon Trams and Funiculars, the Elevador da Glória, Elevador da Bica, and Elevador da Lavra.

A website to book cheap hotels is Lisbon Hotels.

Algarve region of Portugal

The Algarve region is the southernmost region of mainland Portugal in which is located the towns of Albufeira, Faro, Olhão, Lagoa, Lagos, Quarteira, Loulé, Portimão, Silves, Tavira, and Vila Real de Santo António. Its main industry is the tourism industry, followed by fruit production, which includes oranges, carob beans, figs and almonds, plus fishing. Nature lovers will love the Ria Formosa lagoon, a nature reserve and a stopping place for hundreds of various birds. It is also popular with tourists because of its beaches, safety, Mediterranean climate and relatively low costs. Women football fans will love Algarve because it host the annual Algarve Cup invitational tournament for national women's football teams.

Algarve Island Portugal
Photo of Algarve cliffs is property of YXO

Booking of accommodation can be done online at Algarve Hotels.

Madeira archipelago

The Madeira archipelago is located in the north Atlantic Ocean and one of the Autonomous regions of Portugal. Of all its islands, only Madeira Island and Porto Santo Island are inhabited. Because of its climate, it is a popular year-round resort. Madeira is well known for its New Year's Eve celebrations accompanied by a spectacular fireworks show. Its fireworks show has entered the Guinness World Records as the largest in the world. Madeira is noted for its wine, flowers, and embroidery artisans.

Madeira beach Portugal
Photo of Madeira beach is property of Don Amaro

Being a relatively isolated region, it is advisable to book accommodation ahead of arrival via online accommodation websites like Madeira Hotels.

Spain, Madrid, Barcelona and La Rambla


The Kingdom of Spain is located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, next to Portugal and also include the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands plus two autonomous cities in North Africa next to Morocco. The King of Spain is King Juan Carlos who recently made headlines when he told Hugo Chavez to "shut up" at a summit in Chile last week after the Chilean President said Spain's ex-PM Jose Maria Aznar was a "fascist". Apparently, this outburst helped someone make 1.5m euros ($2m) from selling ringtone "Why don't you shut up?" which was so popular it was downloaded by an estimated 500,000 people.

Let us forget about politics and focus on traveling to Spain. Why should one take the trouble to visit Spain? For one, Spain has an interesting history. Nearly all of the Iberian Peninsula, including Spain was conquered by mainly Berber Muslims in the 8th century as part of the expansion of the Umayyad Islamic Empire. Islamic influences are evident in Spain. Spain was conquered by Christians during the Reconquista ("Reconquest"), leading to the creation of the Christian Kingdom of Asturias. Spain is now largely a Christian country, but buildings shows influences of both the great religion.

Food lovers will love the Spanish cuisine which has a great variety of dishes incluenced by differences in geography, culture and climate which has led to a unique cuisine. Seafood is common because of availability of sea catches from the waters that surround the country, and reflects the country's deep Mediterranean roots.

Depending on which part of Spain you happened to be, you will enjoy the moderate Continental climate in the inland areas of the Peninsula where it largest city, Madrid, is located. Then there is the mild Mediterranean climate which is the climate of the region extending from the Andalusian plain along the southern and eastern coasts up to the Pyrenees, on the seaward side of the mountain ranges that run near the coast, in which the second largest city of Spain, Barcelona, is located. The third is the Oceanic climate in Galicia and the coastal strip by the Bay of Biscay, often referred to as Green Spain. You will not freeze to death in Spain.

Madrid, capital city of Spain

Madrid, being the capital city of Spain, is also its financial center plus its cultural and political center. The famous Plaza de Toros is the largest bullring of Spain and considered the world center of bullfighting.

Bullfight at Plaza de Toros, Madrid
Photo of Bullfight at Plaza de Toros, Madrid, is property of Ruth Lozano

Barcelona, capital city of Catalonia

Barcelona is the second largest city of Spain, after Madrid and is a very popular tourist destination. It is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and boasts of lovely beaches. Of its seven beaches, Sant Sebastià and Barceloneta beaches are the largest, oldest and the most frequented beaches in Barcelona.

Barcelona beach
Photo of Barcelona beach is property of Thomas

Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers and thus ideal for those that want to escape the harsh winter of whatever region potential tourists comes from.

Mosaic Works Hercules
Photo of Mosaico Trabajos Hércules is property of Luis García

An old legend credit the founding of the city to Hercules 400 years before the building of Rome, so don't be surprised to see Mosaic like the one above depicting Hercules.

As for accommodation, I will go for advanced online booking at websites like Barcelona Hoteles after my bad experience of traveling around Europe when Internet was non-existent and arriving at a strange place and immediately having to hunt for suitable accommodation. Only problem is, the above website is in the Spanish language. I know a bit of German because of some knowledge of Dutch which has many similarities to the German language, so might be able to manage with Barcelona Hotels, but I think I would be most comfortable with the English version at Barcelona Hotels.

La Rambla, Barcelona

La Ramblam, a 1.2 kilometer-long tree-lined pedestrian mall and the hub of Barcelona, is also referred to as 'Les Rambles' (Catalan) and 'Las Ramblas' (Spanish) because it is actually a series of shorter streets. The mall is full of street theatre, cafés and market stalls. It is both popular with tourists as well as locals.

La Rambla, Barcelona
Photo of La Rambla is property of Son of Groucho

For accommodation in this scenic mall, surf over to Ramblas Hotels.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

For budget travelers to Australia

We have all kinds of travelers. People travel for business, pleasure, catching up with friends and relatives, recently we had relatives traveling from Australia and United States of America to attend a wedding, on government or organizations' duties, etc. Some are fortunate to have their fare and expenses paid for and so do not have to worry about finance. Some are rich and wish to travel or stay in hotels in style and comfort. Some are on a limited budget. Let us hope this post can be useful for the last category - budget travelers.

Where can one find websites which offers budget fares or budget hotels? You can try googling for them. This website says they have revamped the site and have added directory section section which makes it far easier to drill down and search for heavily discounted last minute accommodation in Australia. You should try for yourself and see how it works, but here are some results:

Burleigh Heads Hotels

Coolangatta Hotels

Manly Hotels

Byron Bay Hotels

My sister and family is in Melbourne and I do not yet have intention to visit those places, but if you happened to try out the above sites, I hope for some feedback. I hope you let us know your experience by leaving a comment or comments. I am going to set the comment settings to let anybody comment, but will also set it for comment moderation to avoid spam comments.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Malta, Cyprus, Crete and the Mediterranean Sea

I have traveled around Europe and my favorite is Switzerland. My daughter and son-in-law not too long ago had their honeymoon in Greece. I have never been to any of the Mediterranean islands, including Malta or Cyprus but would jump at the chance if presented with such an opportunity. Malta has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. I would expect it to be the same for the other Mediterranean islands as well. Such pleasant makes Mediterranean islands great destination for vacations, especially for those in countries with harsher climate.

Malta, a country of Southern Europe

Malta, Mediterranean Sea
The photo of Malta is property of Kristine Riskær

Malta is an archipelago comprising 7 islands which are all located in the Mediterranean Sea about 93 kilometre south of the Italian island of Sicily. Of the seven, only the three largest islands - Malta Island (Malta), Comino (Kemmuna) and Gozo (Għawdex) are inhabited. The other smaller uninhabited islands including the islands of Cominotto, Filfla and St.Paul.

Malta may be a small nation, but it is densely populated (as far as the 3 populated islands are concerned anyway). Like Belgium where I was a student before and which have 3 official languages, Malta has two - Maltese and English. Malta is both the smallest European Union country both with respect to population and to area.

Malta attractions

Other than the pleasant Mediterranean climate including the sunshine, Malta has a history of six thousand years to boast of and have temples, monuments and archaeological sites to prove it. Some of them are older than the pyramids of Egypt. A visit to Malta can be like time travel to the past as you can witness regular military and historical parades for visitors to be reminded of Malta's history. There are also multi-vision shows to portray Maltese history from its very beginnings to modern day.

Malta accommodations

Accommodation of various type to suit various preferences and budget, but for a thrifty person like me, I would probably go for Cheap Hotels in Malta. After all, one is going there to roam around Malta, not to hide in a hotel room, so how much of time does one spend in a hotel room when one go on a vacation that one would need an expensive hotel room?

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus

Cyprus beach, Mediterranean Sea
Photo of Golden Cyprus Beach is property of GOZDE

Cyprus is an island which is also a country with a mainly Eurasian population. It is situated in the eastern Mediterranean north of Egypt, south of Turkey, and east-southeast of Greece.

Food (Cuisine) of Cyprus

If you are like me who like to sample food from all over the world, perhaps you might be interested in tasting Halloumi that originates from Cyprus which is a cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk and is usually served sliced and grilled as an appetizer. Others include calamari (squid), octopus in red wine, (red mullet), and sea bass which are all seafood dishes of Cyprus. Cyprus cuisine commonly include cucumber, tomato, pickled cauliflower, potatoes in olive oil, kolokasi (taro), parsley, asparagus and beets. If you are a meat lover, you may go for meat dishes marinated in dried coriander seeds and wine, then dried and smoked. These include charcoal grilled lamb (souvla), lounza and sheftalia (minced meat wrapped in mesentery).

Cyprus Attractions

Cyprus is the third-largest Mediterranean island after Sicily and Sardinia and is a very popular tourist destination. Malaysia with 3 major races of Asia represented plus many other racial groups have a tag line Malaysia, truly Asia. In Cyprus, you can find elements of both East and West, and if I coin a tag line for Cyprus - "Cyprus, East and West", I wonder if this will earn me a free trip to Cyprus Tourism Ministry or Department. Not only can you get to enjoy the lovely beaches and track the rugged mountains, you can enjoy great modern healthy spas as well as visit traditional villages, medieval castles and ancient, historical sites Crusader castles to the tomb of Prophet Mohammed's aunt.

Cyprus accommodations

I don't know what you want, but I know what I want. I want: Cheap Hotels in Cyprus for the same reasons as stated above.

Greece, officially name: Hellenic Republic

Greece is the birthplace of many things including democracy, the Olympic Games, philosophy, Western literature, political science, plus many major scientific and mathematical principles. Greek mythology have influenced Western culture, arts literature and languages.

Greece is one of the most mountainous country in Europe as 4/5 of Greece is mountains or hills.

Greece can be divided into 3 regions based on its climate influenced strongly by the Pindus mountain range. They are the Mediterranean, Alpine and temperate climates. The Mediterranean climate has mild and wet winter and hot and dry summer and temperatures are rarely extreme. The Mediterranean climate are the climate of the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, Crete, Eastern Peloponessus and parts of the Sterea Ellada region. The mountainous region above the tree line of norther Greece would experience the Alpine climate where temperature are coldest. The Temperate climate has cold, damp winter and hot, dry summer and this climate is experienced by the Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace.

Greece has many islands in the Mediterranean Sea, including


sunset in Hania, Crete, Greece
Photo of Sunset in Hania, Crete is property of Miroslav Zadrepko

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean. Crete has a very significant ancient history and also a popular tourist destination. Crete was the centre of the Minoan civilization, the oldest form of Greek and hence European civilization, at around 2600 to 1400 BC). Among Crete's attractions are the beaches for the beach lovers, historical sites like the classical site of Gortys, the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the Samaria Gorge, the Venetian castle at Rethymno as well as many other monuments.

Crete Accommodations

For a person who hates waste, I would say go for Cheap Hotels in Cyprus.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Germany and Austria, Two Germanic country

Germanic people and language

Germanic people are those who speak the Germanic language spread out in various countries in Europe which include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, even Netherlands and England. The Dutch language has great similarity to the German language. Germanic language defined widely include a lot of languages, but I would consider German as the major Germanic language. And the bulk of the German speaking people reside in Germany and Austria while they form a minority in the other countries.


The Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is located in west-central Europe and is right next to Belgium where I was a student for 2 over years in the 70s. Germany is a parliamentary republic of sixteen states with its capital city in Berlin, and is a member of the European Union. As an economic power, it is rated third after the United States and Japan. The sixteen states are Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia (Nordrhein-Westfalen),
Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz), Saarland, Saxony (Sachsen), Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt), Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia (Thüringen). It is a highly technically and scientific competent country with a high standard of living. The products of some of its corporations like Daimler, Volkswagen, Siemens, BASF, Robert Bosch, Mercedes Benz, SAP (Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung), BMW, Audi and Porsche are highly sought after all over the world.

You can have both new, modern and efficient facilities in Germany like efficient dynamic big cities like Berlin , Munich and Frankfurt, Vienna or quaint old towns and villages like the famous Black Forest, fairy-tale castles, etc. Your choice.

As an environmentally conscious blogger and one who hate waste, especially wasting precious and expensive tourist time, booking accommodation ahead of arrival online at websites like Germany Hotels is my preferred method of booking accommodation.


The name "Berlin" is applied to both the capital city of Germany as well as one of the sixteen states of the Federal Republic of Germany located in northeastern Germany. Berlin is a major center in European politics, culture, media, and science as well as a continental hub for air and rail transport (Frankfurt Airport is the major hub for airlines for both Germany, Europe and the workd). Berlin is not rated as the third most-visited tourist destination in the European Union for nothing. If you are looking for world-renowned universities, research institutes, Berlin has it. You want to witness sporting events, orchestras, museums and personalities, you can get that in Berlin as well. Berlin's is also a popular setting for international film productions world-renowned universities, research institutes, sporting events, orchestras, museums and personalities. Berlin's urban landscape and historical legacy has made it a popular setting for international film productions. You want festivals, contemporary architecture, nightlife and avant-garde arts, Berlin has them all. Berlin attracts individuals who go for liberal lifestyle, modern zeitgeist "the spirit of the age" and low cost of living (this actually depend on which part of the world you are coming from). And of course there is this remnants of the dismantled Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate.

Accommodation in Berlin can be booked online via Berlin Hotels if you can handle the German language or Berlin Hotels if you are more comfortable with the de facto International language - English.


The Republic of Austria (Republik Österreich or Republik Österreich) is a landlocked country next to Germany. Austria one of six European countries that have declared permanent neutrality and one of the few countries that incorporated the concept of everlasting neutrality in its country's Constitution. It comprises 9 states, namely Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria (Niederösterreich), Upper Austria (Oberösterreich), Salzburg, Styria (Steiermark), Tyrol (Tirol), Vorarlberg and Vienna. Austria is one of the 10 richest countries in the world in terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) per capita with a very high standard of living.

What I like to see in Austria are the Austrian folk dancing like Schuhplattler, Ländler, Polka, Waltz, Zwiefacher, Kontratänze and Sprachinseltänze, often seen during Austrian festivals. And being one who like to taste everything on earth, I would like to sample the Austrian cuisine of Austria like the Goulash and its pastries and sweets. For someone who lives in a country which do not experience snow fall, I would like to visit Austrian skiing, hiking and mountaineering resorts in the Alps. Those interested in Media Art may go for the Ars Electronica Center in Linz and attend the Ars Electronica Festival.


Vienna (Wien) is the capital city of Austria and is the largest city in Austria and its cultural, economical and political center. Vienna has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site[3] and an Economist Intelligence Unit study of 127 world cities ranked it first for the quality of life, sharing this honor with Vancouver. And everyone must have heard of the Vienna Boy's Choir.

For accommodation in Vienna, try Wien Hotels.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oceania, paradise for sea sports, beach lovers

What is Oceania

Oceania is a term that covers a very large geographical area that comprises many islands in the Pacific Ocean, including the island continent - Australia. Some divide Oceania into 4 sub-regions - Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Many of the islands have beautiful beaches and many would consider the region a beach lover paradise. It is thus no coincidence that the major economic activities of many of these islands is tourism.


Included in this sub-region are Australia, Christmas Island (Australia), Cocos (Keeling) Islands (Australia), New Zealand and Norfolk Island (Australia).


Australia is a vast land mass, an island continent with regions having climate from tropical to desert. Tasmania, the southmost island of Australia have an extremely variable climate with high fluctuations in temperature and wind speed all within an average week. As far as Australian beaches are concerned, the most popular state is Queensland which boast of the longest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef.

Whitsunday Islands

Whitsunday Islands are a collective of continental islands of various sizes off the coast of Queensland. Tropical Queensland offers warm waters and the stunning Great Barrier Reef, great place for scuba diving. Some call the Great Barrier Reef a divers Mecca (Mecca is a must go place for Muslime to perform the Haj or pilgrimage). The Whitsundays has companies offer dive courses for every skill level from novice dives to a full 5 day diving courses. Not only that, the beautiful coral and abundant marine life are not far from the coasts. You can get stunning snorkelling spots right on your doorstep as fringing reefs surround many of the islands.

It is also paradise for sailing in the sheltered, warm waters of the Whitsundays and it is considered as one of the worlds premier sailing destinations. You can hire a wide range of vessels ranging from multi-hulls to cruisers to luxury yachts. If you don't want to skipper the yatches yourself, you can hire a diverse fleet of crewed and skippered sailing craft from Whitsundays either as individuals or in groups for trips around the coast and islands for periods of 3 to 6 days. You may also get to enjoy views of the magnificent humpback whales frolic in the calm waters between July and September. The sand on the beach are 99% pure white sand and fine. It is said that the NASA used sand from the beaches of Whitsunday Islands to make lenses for their telescopes. However, don't try to take some home or you ma be fined $5000 or more.

Whitsunday Islands are grouped into collections of islands such as:

The Whitsunday Group
Islands included in the Whitsunday Group are Bird Island, Black Island, Border Island, Cid Island, Cowrie Island, Deloraine Island, Dent Island, Dumbell Island, Dungarra Island, Esk Island, Fitzalan Island, Hamilton Island, Harold Island, Haslewood Island, Hayman Island, Henning Island, Hook Island, Ireby Island, Langford Island, Long Island, Lupton Island, Nicolson Island, Perseverance Island, Plum Pudding Island, Teague Island, Titan Island, Whitsunday Island, Wirrainbela Island and Workington Island.

Lindeman Group
The Lindeman Islands comprisses a group of islands off the coast of Queensland situated within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The islands in the Lindeman Group include Baynham Island, Cornston Island, Gaibirra Island, Triangle Island, Keyser Island, Lindeman Island, Little Lindeman Island, Maher Island, Mansell Island, Pentecost Island, Seaforth Island, Thomas Island and Volskow Island.

The Molles
Islands in the Molles group include Daydream Island which was formerly referred to as West Molle Island, Denman Island, Goat Island, Mid Molle Island, North Molle Island, Planton Island and South Molle Island.

Northern Group
Islands in the Northern Group include Armit Island, Double Cone Island, Eshelby Island, Gloucester Island, Grassy Island, Gumbrell Island, Olden Island, Rattray Island and Saddleback Island.

If you plan to have your vacation on the Whitsundays Islands, it would be wise to book your accommodation before departure at online accommodation booking websites such as Whitsundays


Included in Melanesia are East Timor, Fiji, Indonesia (Oceanian part only), New Caledonia (France), Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.


Fiji (Republic of the Fiji Islands), is an archipelago of about 322 islands. Only 106 have permanent residents and there are 522 islets. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu are its two major islands, accounting for 87% of Fiji's population. The capital city of Fiji is Suva in which almost 75% of its population live. The international airport is located in the town of Nadi and Lautoka hosts the sea-port. Fiji has been blessed with much resources like forest, mineral, and fish resources, and thus is one of the more developed of the Pacific island . However, a significant portion of its population still live at subsistence level. Fiji is highly dependent on the tourism industries as sugar processing contributes only about 33% of its industrial activity.

Fiji attractions

There are lots to do here in Fiji, especially if it has anything to do with the sea. You can go parasailing, jet skies, enjoy banana boat rides and speedboats. Or hop on a schooner to go to Tivua Island, a beautiful uninhabited coral island with good snorkeling. Another small island to visit is Malamala Island, another small and beautiful uninhabited coral island where you can get glass bottom boat and enjoy beach barbeques by the crystal clear sea water. Or go fishing with a boat like the one you see in the photo.

Accommodations in Fiji

With such an isolated place like Fiji, if you plan to visit Fiji, I and I am sure you are not going to board the airplane minus booking ahead your accommodation before arrival. Previously it was almost impossible. Now with the Internet and online accommodation booking websites like Fiji Hotels, it will be a breeze, and you will get lots and lots of breezes when you arrival in Fiji.


The Republic of Vanuatu is an island nation, an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean near Australia and Fiji. So if you visit either Australia or Fiji, you might as well drop by Vanuatu. Vanuatu, the archipelago was previously a colony of the United Kingdom and France jointly. It achieved independence in 1980 and became the Republic of Vanuatu, a vary young nation.

Vanuatu attractions

In Vanuatu, you can just relax and laze around on the beach or you can be very active. You can visit places like Hideaway Island, Mele Cascades or Mele. Want to do something very unique which very few people have a chance to do? Go send a postcard or postcards to those you left behind from the world's only underground post office in Hideaway Island. Or you can go snorkeling, kayaking, or just plain swim in the crystal clear water. Don't like water? Picnic on the beautiful beach. Or go get lots of healthy and invigorating negative ions in the waterfalls.

Accommodation in Vanuatu

Just like any places in the world, Vanuatu have hotels. But if you don't want to sleep on the beach, get your accommodation via online accommodation booking websites like Vanuatu Hotels before you even go out of your front door.


Polynesia is generally considered as including Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and French Polynesia. French Polynesia itself include many sub-groups such as the French territory of New Caledonia. And with New Caledonia is Noumea.


Nouméa is the capital city of the French territory of New Caledonia on Grande Terre island. It has a highly multi-racial population consisting of Polynesian which can be further divided into Wallisians, Futunians and Tahitians, European, Melanesian Ni-Vanuatu and Kanaks, Indonesian and Vietnamese, etc. Nouméa city has an international airport, the La Tontouta International Airport at Tontouta, about 50 kilometres from the Noumea city. Nouméa has a very pleasant climate with plenty of sunshine days plus some exquisite beaches near the city center.

Noumea attractions

See the photo? Wind surfing in Noumea. How about it? Don't like to wind surf or don't know how to, no worries. You can take a short boat trip Phare Amedee Island which small but pristine island which will take you only about half an hour to walk all over it. But don't miss the delicious local cuisine and make sure you go watch the Polynesian dancers perform while you enjoy your meals. It is also great for snorkeling, go sun bathing or just sit under the coconut trees and relax on this beautiful island. Active type? Go climb up to the top of the lighthouse for a sceanic view of the lagoon encircling Noumea. Nothing can beat that.

Noumea accommodation

Just like above, it is possible to book online your accommodation on Noumea at such websites as Noumea Hotels for Noumea is a pretty modern place. No need to waste you precious and expensive time hunting for suitable accommodation when you arrive instead of enjoying yourself under the coconut tree and getting caressed by the sea breeze. Be wise.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

London Airport Hotels

London, once center of an empire on which the sun never set (once upon a time), is still somewhat the center to the world. Lots of people flock to London for all kinds of reasons. To cater to this stampede, London need lots of airports. Some of London's airports are Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, Luton Airport Stansted Airport, London Biggin Hill Airport, London Ashford Airport, and London-Corbin Airport. Let us look at some major ones:

Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport is the major entry point for London as well as the rest of England. It is in fact United Kingdom's biggest airport. Over 90 airlines operating from Heathrow Airports which currently uses four terminals serving visitors from 180 destinations in over 90 countries. Heathrow Airport is also Europe's busiest airport for passenger traffic, and the primary hub of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways and a major hub for bmi airline which operates cheap air flights from the United Kingdom to Europe, Middle East and the United States of America.

Heathrow Airport is 15 miles (24 km) west of Central London with two parallel main runways running east-west and four terminals. There is one more terminal under construction - Terminal 5 scheduled to open in March 2008. Heathrow Airport plans to add extra runways.

Transportation between Heathrow Airport and London

As the major airport of London, Heathrow Airport have many transportation possibilities to London City. Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station is the fastest and most frequent, just 15 minutes and at 15 min intervals. The fare is £15.50 (USD 30.80). If you are looking for the cheapest, then Piccadilly Line to central London (London Underground) will be your choice, but will take longer at 50 minutes. Get the 'Oyster Card' for to get cheaper fare. Single journeys are around £3.50 with Oyster card. You will be required to place a deposit of £3, refundable on return. Other ways, paper ticket, but it will cost you £4, no deposit, but 50 pence more.

If you want convenience, take a combination of Heathrow Express to Paddington, then take a taxi to your final destination. You can also hire a taxi to take you from Heathrow to Central London, and if you don't run into traffic jams, it will take around one hour. Fare will be between £45 to £60. There is also a shuttle service operated by the National Express Dot2Dot between Heathrow airport and central London.

More choices: Heathrow Connect rail service, a slower version of Heathrow Express taking the same route. This one stops at intermediate stations.

For those wanting to go to Clapham or London Waterloo, South London, take the 285 bus to Feltham station or the SouthWest Trains to Clapham Junction or Waterloo. Journey time will be around 20 minutes, depending on circumstances.

Heathrow Airport Hotels

There some some travelers who prefer to stay in hotels in the vicinity of the airport rather than in hotels in the City center, some because of convenience, some because of cost. In the first place, everyone knows how expensive car parking in city centers are, but many airport hotels offer free or discounted rates car parking. Whatever it is, you can have your choice of London Heathrow Hotels where the choices can range from budget rates from as low as GBP 40 at Shepiston Lodge located at 31 Shepiston Lane, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 1LJ, to 5 star luxury accommodation in London available from GBP 98 at Radisson Edwardian Heathrow Hotel, 140 Bath Road Hayes Middlesex UB3 5AW.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport is London's second largest airport and the second busiest airport after Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom. It only has one runway, but is the busiest single runway airport in the world. In terms of passengers per year, it is the world's 22nd busiest airport, and in terms of international passengers per year it is in 7th place. Located in Crawley, West Sussex, it is only 5 kilometre or 3 miles north of Crawley town center, 46 kilometre or 28 miles south of London and 40 kilometre or 25 miles north of Brighton.

Airlines operating from Gatwick Airport fly to 200 destinations. Gatwick Airport itself handled over 34 million passengers in 2006. Since charter airlines generally do not operate from Heathrow, chartered airlines therefore use Gatwick as their main base for London and the Southeast. Many airlines operate between Gatwick and the United States of America because of the restrictions on access to Heathrow Airports imposed by the Bermuda 2 bilateral air services agreement between United Kingdom and United States of America. Gatwick Airport serves a major operational base for British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic.

Transportation between Gatwick Airport and London

If you are in a hurry, take the Gatwick Express which is a high-speed rail link between the airport and London Victoria Station. Frequency is every 15 minutes and journey time is about 30 to 35 minutes. Fare depend on what class you choose. For Express class, fare is £14 (one way) and £26.80 (return). If you insist on First Class and want priority security procedures, fare is higher at £20 one way and £38 return. You may use Day Return, Railcards or Carnet, but you can't use Travelcards.

Those who don't mind longer journey time and prefer lower fare, try Southern Rail which is a train service to Victoria via Clapham Junction. Frequency is also about every 15 minutes. Journey time is about 35 to 40 minutes. Fare is £9 one way to Victoria. You also cannot use Travelcards. If you can travel in a group of 3 people or more, you get a group discount for a day travel card which you can also use for all London Underground and TFL buses for one whole day, and for all these, you pay only £6.10 per person for after peak hours.

Other possibilities include First Capital Connect (Thameslink) which serve the route between Gatwick station and London Bridge, City Thameslink, Farringdon, Kings Cross, through north London to Luton Airport and beyond. Sounds very flexible.

Gatwick Airport Hotels

For cheap hotels, look for them at London Gatwick Hotels many of which offers free extras such as free parking, free breakfasts and meals, free Internet access, even free meals at the hotel restaurants in London. You can get budget rates at Gatwick Airport hotels from as low as GBP 39 at Chestnuts Luxury Guest House, Gatwick to 3 star Chestnuts Luxury Guest House Gatwick with rates from only GBP 39. It is only 8 Minutes to Gatwick Airport with luxury Bread and Breakfast at reasonable prices and offers holiday parking facilities.

Stansted Airport

London Stansted Airport is the third largest London airport with a single runway located in the Uttlesford District of the county of Essex. Stansted Airport is roughly about 30 miles (48 km) north-east of London, 2 miles (3 km) from Bishop's Stortford and 6 miles (10 km) from Harlow. Some major European low-cost airlines uses Stansted Airport as a hub for their operations. Stansted Airport has only one terminal with three boarding piers. 22 million passengers passed through Stansted Airport in 2005.

Transportation between Stansted Airport and London

For land transportation, there is a railway station below the terminal building of Stansted Airport trains operated by CrossCountry serving Cambridge, Leicester and the Midlands. Trains are scheduled every 60 minutes. Another train service, the Stansted Express, a non-stop rail link going to Liverpool Street station, London with departure. Frequency is between 15 to 30 minutes. The journey time is 45 to 60 minutes. This is the most expensive way to get to London, but it is also the fastest and most convenient way. Fare is £15 one way and £25 return. You cannot use Travelcards for Stansted Express. Stansted Express goes beyond Liverpool Street station to Tottenham Hale and Liverpool Street, but takes 15 minutes for such a short journey. You cannot carry bicycle aboard Stansted Express, but folding bicycle is acceptable.

You can also use the London Underground. To get to West End, West or South London, take the Stansted Express up to Tottenham Hale, change to the Victoria Line and that will take you to Oxford Circus and Victoria. It will cost £14.50 one way to Tottenham Hale. It is £2.50 with the Oyster card to Oxford Circus: £2.50.

If you want express bus, there is Terravision which service the route between Stansted Airport and Bishopsgate (Liverpool Street station) and Victoria Coach terminal. Frequency is hourly and journey time is about 75 minutes. Fare is £8 one way and £14 return) to Victoria, £6.70 one way and £11.80 return) to Liverpool Street. You cannot use Travelcards for Terravision express bus.

If you want to go to London Victoria via Golders Green, take the National Express Bus. Frequency is every half hours or more. Fare for one way is £10 and for return is £16. To get to Stratford, fare is £8 one way and £14 return. Bicycles, except folding bicycles, is not allowed to be carried onto National Express Bus. Expect delays as you will be held up by traffic jams, especially on the Victoria Service.

You can book online in advance for journey on easyBus services to Baker Street. This can you as low as £2, but if you purchase tickets on the bus, it will cost you £8.

For travel by road, there are express bus or coach services from Stratford Airport to Victoria Coach Station, Liverpool Street Station and Golders Green. The fare is half that of the train but journey time is longer and takes about 80 to 130 minutes. Another bus service, the easyBus provide road transport between the Stansted Airport and Baker Street in Central London.

Stansted Airport Hotels

BudgetStansted Airport hotels like the Saracen's Head Hotel Great Dunmow situated at the High Street, Great Dunmow, Essex CM6 1AG, go for as cheap as GBP 58 and can be found at London Stansted Hotels.

Luton Airport

The London Luton Airport or what was previously called Luton International Airport is an international airport at the edge of the town of Luton, Bedfordshire, England about 30 miles (48 km) north of London 2 miles (3 km) from junction 10a of the M1 motorway. Luton Airport is the fourth largest airport after Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Luton Airport is one of London's five international airports, the fifth one being London City Airport.

Total passengers at London Luton is 9.41 million in 2006 and is ranked the seventh busiest United Kingdom airports. Monarch Airlines, Ryanair, easyJet, Thomsonfly, Wizz Air and Silverjet uses Luton Airport as its hub.

Luton Airport has plan to further expand the airport to include a full length runway plus a new terminal, but this was opposed by the residents and the plans were eventually abandoned.

Transportation between Luton Airport and London

At the Luton Airport Parkway railway station, First Capital Connect operate services to Bedford, St Albans, London, Wimbledon, Sutton, London Gatwick Airport and Brighton. You can also take the East Midlands Trains services which travels at hourly frequency and go to London Saint Pancras, and also to Leicester, Nottingham and Leeds. From the Luton Airport, you can take the free shuttle bus to get to the station and vice-versa. The journey is only just over a mile.

Green Line Coaches and easyBus operat direct bus services to London. For other towns in the midlands and north of England, take the National Express coaches.

For those with cars, Luton Airport is just a few miles from the M1 motorway. The M1 highway goes to London, and also connects to Leeds. For parking, there is a short stay car park next to the terminal. For medium and long term parking, there are Airport car parks to the west and east of the terminal which are linked to the terminal by shuttle buses. There are also many off airport private car par operators which you can pre-booked.

Luton Airport Hotels

Luton Airport Hotels offers a range of hotels such as budget 3 star Regent Lodge Hotel in the London Luton airport vicinity with rates from only GBP 25.

Paris, most popular tourist destination in the world, etc

Paris for Tourists

I visited Paris in the 70s, but it was just a one day visit. Amazingly, we managed to crammed quite a lot into that one day including entrance to the famous Moulin Rouge. I can see why Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world. It has not been dubbed "The Romance Capital of the World" and the "City of Light" for nothing. There are lots for tourists to enjoy, and more had been added since my last visit.

Paris for commerce, finance and others

However, Paris is just not for tourists. It is also a major city for commerce and various important world center like the headquarter of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are located in Paris. The Paris Club, while not a permanent body like UNESCO or OECD, is an important informal grouping of 19 of the world's richest countries formed to debate matters related to debt restructuring, debt relief, and debt cancellation of impoverished countries often working together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The members of the Paris Club meets every six weeks at the French Ministry of the Economy, Finance, and Industry in Paris.

The Paris Region (Île-de-France or Région Parisienne) is an important commercial area and considered one of the richest regions in the world. Within it is located other business districts including the well known La Défense. Paris is also thus frequented by government officials and businessmen.

But let us talk about Paris for tourists:

Eiffel Tower and double Decker bus

bratan says: "welcome to Paris dear happy tourists"

Who doesn't know Eiffel Tower, the most recognizable structure in the world and the icon of Paris? You can see it in the background in the above photo behind the open deck red double Decker bus. Looks like London don't have a monopoly over red double Decker buses. A visit to Eiffel Tower is highly recommended, as I myself have taken the lift up to the top deck. You can get a spectacular view of Paris skyline from there. I don't know about the double Decker red bus because I never saw it during my visit, but it should be a fun ride, especially if you dump yourself in the open top deck.

La Géode in Parc de la Villette

This is something I missed in my day visit to Paris, the La Géode, an Omnimax dome theatre located in the Parc de la Villette is the largest park in Paris. It has facilities for science and music, including the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie, the biggest science museum in Europe.

An OMNIMAX now called theIMAX Dome is designed for projection of large movies on tilted dome screens and I have never experienced one before. That is one big reason for me to visit Paris again, but this time, a day visit will not do. For such a thing to happen, I am going to need accommodation which I will likely book online using my ADSL broadband 24 hours connection to the Internet via Paris Hôtels. Darn. This website is in French. While I know a bit of French like bonjour, excusez-moi and merci beaucoup, this smattering of French is not going to help me navigate this French website.

But Spain is France neighbor, and it will be easy for them to visit Paris as it is just a short hop from their country and for them, the Spanish online booking site, París Hoteles will but for them, but not for me despite know some Spanish like buenos días, excúseme and gracias mucho.

Germany too is France next door neighbor, and it is no surprise to learn that Paris is a favorite of German tourist too. I know some German language too because I have learned Dutch and German and Dutch language are closely related, but still will not be able to handle Paris Hotels which is a German language site. I will have to leave this German website for German tourists.

When I visited England in the 70's, I had to use the hovercraft. There used to be hovercrafts carrying passengers from Dover, England to Calais, France, but I think that has stopped as it is no competition to the high speed 186 mph Eurostar train via the Chunnel under the English Channel. For them and for me, we will have to resort to Paris Hotels which is English language.