Sunday, October 12, 2008

Florida, USA

Florida Tourism - Birth & Growth
By Paul Sunderland

Map of FloridaDiscovered in 1513 by Spanish Conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, Florida has fast become one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations pulling in about 60 million visitors to the state every year. Its warm climate, friendly locals and massive variety of activities all contribute to its popular vacation status.

Before the tourists began flooding in Florida was mostly an agricultural state and this continues to be its second largest industry today. As well as a booming cattle farming industry Florida produces the majority of the citrus fruit in the US. Indeed, Florida is famous, even now, not only for its theme parks but for its large quantity of oranges, with orange juice being the state’s official beverage. As well as citrus fruit the state is also well known for producing sugar cane, today its third biggest industry. These days it is surprising to most that, before the arrival of tourism, Florida consisted of mostly cattle fields and swamplands.

Beach at Bahia Honda, Florida Keys by MwannerThe warm climate, sandy beaches and various activities such as fishing and water sports began to bring in the visitors and lay the foundation for what was to become the states greatest industry and main economy source. In the early days of this growth (early to mid 1800s) it was still only the rich and famous who could afford a vacation to Florida. That was until American tycoon Henry S. Flagler visited that state in 1878 and recognised the massive potential Florida could hold to attract visitors from outside the state. He built the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St Augustine in 1885 and then began to construct what is now known as the Florida East Coast Railway making travel into Florida much easier and more convenient for people from as far away as New York. Flagler went on to build more hotels subsequently improving the state’s accommodation and allowing for more visitors. In the early 1900s visitors increased considerably due to this growth in hotels and railways and then in the 1930s airlines opened up travel schedules to Florida and airports were built in the major cities, again allowing for a boost in tourists.

St Petersburg skyline by Jamie BeverlyPeople came to soak in the sun and the laid back Florida attitude bringing about the growth of beach towns up and down the coasts. By now many of Florida's residents had long figured out that tourism had become a fundamental source of bread and butter for them and so they set about earning whatever living they could from it. Even as the beach towns prospered from all the sun seekers people began to pull visitors further inland with various roadside attractions. However it was in 1963-64 when a certain man took a plane journey over the state that the rise of Florida tourism as we know it today really began.

In 1963 Walt Disney was looking for somewhere to build his dream, a bigger and better version of his Disneyland attraction in California. Disneyland didn't fulfil Walt's dream the way he intended, only buying enough land to build the actual park it quickly became surrounded by urban life as Los Angeles grew around it, so this time he knew he needed land and lots of it. At the time central Florida had undeveloped swampland in abundance and when Mr. Disney took that plane flight overhead he knew that was the place.

Everglades National ParkToday Walt Disney World is still considered the greatest theme park on earth and its development was followed by a succession of more world class theme parks such as Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Sea World and Busch Gardens. It is now these attractions that Florida is best known for and between them they gather hundreds of thousands of visitors every day and it was the growth in these attractions that rocketed the once sleepy southern state of Florida into the position of one of the world’s favourite tourist destinations. Despite this, there is still an enormous range of activities offered to the Florida tourist of today including (but certainly not limited to) fishing, golf, water sports, space shuttle launches, wildlife, shopping, dining and world class beaches.

About The Author
Exclusive Florida Homes is a company specialising in vacation homes in Orlando, Florida.

Pictures
Map of Florida
Beach at Bahia Honda, Florida Keys (Mwanner)
St Petersburg skyline (Jamie Beverly)
Everglades National Park

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

France, Paris

Paris Sightseeing & Travel Tips
By Jacy G

Eiffel Tower at sunriseThe main difference Paris offers to the other major capitals of the world is, I think, their buildings and architecture have been carefully restricted and therefore one can generally always see the sky wherever you may be. Paris has all the bustle of any capital but less frenetic than London for instance. There is always time to chill which in my opinion the French do very well. The French also appreciate beauty and generally that is reflected in their women who take care of themselves and their appearance - much to the great pleasure of the men, no doubt.

If you are an art lover, take a trip to Le Louvre. The much debated pyramid to some is an eyesore, to others a careful fusion between the old and the contemporary but a discussion point none the less. Once inside Le Louvre, you can marvel at the numerous works of art including the famed Mona Lisa which is surprisingly small in size. I was very surprised by this when I saw it. Something talked about so much being so very small. It’s quite ironic really. Quirks aside, Le Louvre is well worth a visit. I personally can't spend hours looking at a single piece of art so I whipped round the entire exhibition in less than a day. If you like taking things at a more leisurely pace, you may need to make a few visits to satiate yourself.

Arc de TriompheIf you are of a religious disposition and also appreciate art, then the Sacre Coeur is the place to go. You need to be quite fit of course if you are walking as there is a mighty climb to reach it. Once there, allow yourself to be inspired by the amazingly beautiful ceiling fresco's. As beautiful as any sky on a clear sunny day. The blue of the sky is incredible. When I paint, I never manage to get colours quite as vibrant on my palette. Still, being a house of God, one might expect something a little more magnificent. C'est la vie. There is of course Notre Dame of religious interest as well - which is not nearly as pretty - more eerie if you ask me - possibly scary. Still it's worth a visit just to see the gargoyles and the story telling artwork inside its walls. Those too are a bit scary - dark and sombre - but that probably has more to do with the dim lighting.

If you are in the mood for love or history, what better way to spend an afternoon by floating down the River Seine. Relax, sit back and enjoy the views. The guided tours are very informative and another great way to see the capital.

Anyway, those are my favourite places in Paris but following closely behind are the Arch de Triumph, the Catacombs, Montmartre, the Latin Quarter and Le Tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower). Notably, the Eiffel Tower was originally a temporary structure but has survived incredibly well considering its humble beginnings.

About The Author
Jacy G is a great fan of France and all things French. For accommodation deals visit Cheap Hotels France.

Pictures
Eiffel Tower at sunrise (Tristan Nitot)
Arc de Triomphe (Cezary Piwowarski)

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Las Vegas, USA

The Basics Of Las Vegas
Las Vegas Choices

Las Vegas stripIf a trip to Vegas is planned for the near future, there are a few basic things you should know. First, walking shoes are an extremely important item to pack. Like most Vegas tourists, you will be spending a lot of time walking, waiting in lines, and you want to be as comfortable as possible.

The second thing to keep in mind is the weather. Overall, the weather in Las Vegas is very predictable. During the months of October to April, the weather will err on the cooler side in the evening, so be sure to pack some warm clothes. Vegas is notorious for being extremely hot, and possibly uncomfortably so, during the months of May to September. No matter what, be sure to pack sunscreen to protect your skin.

Vegas can become extremely busy around the holidays which may mean the prices are only bound to go up. If you want to save some money, be sure to book during off-peak times. If the peak-season is when you want to travel, plan on booking in advance to make sure you have a seat on the plane, and your first choice in accommodations.

Remember that Las Vegas is a desert town, so you can easily become dehydrated during your stay. This is a much drier climate than most people are accustomed to, and the heat/dryness can sneak up on you if you are not prepared. No matter what, be sure to drink lots of water.

Hoover DamVegas is a haven for golfers. Don't forget to pack your best clubs, and make time to play a few rounds. A nice set of dress clothes is also a must if you plan on heading out for dinner and a show.

While Vegas is famous for big spenders, it is quite possible to spend thriftily and have a nice vacation for two at around USD$100 per day. At the other end of the spectrum, big spenders can drop thousands on one meal very easily. Pay attention to the places you are considering before you enter if you are on a limited budget.

If you plan to stray far from your hotel, you may want to consider renting a car, or driving your own. It's easy to lose track of time while inside various casinos, and sometimes the distances can be deceiving.

While many people only think of casinos when thinking of Vegas, the city is just as well-known for their weddings. More than 122,000 couples apply for marriage licenses in Las Vegas each year. The licensing fees for marriage in Vegas is around USD$55 (this is the current rate, keep in mind that this rate is subject to change), and then other wedding charges on top of that. The great thing about a Vegas wedding is that you can go as informal and small or as bold and lavish as you can afford.

Las Vegas desertWhatever you are planning - a gambling party, marriage, rounds of golf, a bachelor party, or just spending time with your friends and family, this can be a wonderful trip. No matter what, HAVE FUN. Enjoy the sites, catch a few shows, enjoy the buffets, and spend some time at the hotel spa or pool getting some R&R before heading home.

Remember: "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas". So let your hair down and have some fun during your time here and be sure to make plans for your return trip.

About The Author
For more information visit the Las Vegas Choices website.

Pictures
Las Vegas strip (Jon Sullivan)
Hoover Dam (Selbst Gemacht)
Las Vegas desert

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan - Places You Must See
By Jed Jones

GinzaIf you are heading to Tokyo, Japan and have no time to read or even buy a thick travel guide, no worries. I have prepared a concise, must-see list of places that you can squeeze in during your trip. So, print this out, stick it in your pocket and go!

1. Harajuku
Known for its street youth sporting out-of-this world costumes, its great shopping and its proximity to the famous Meiji Shrine, Harajuku is eye candy for the intrepid traveller of any age. Walk around, shop a bit, or have lunch while you people watch. Directions: Take the Yama-no-te line and get off at Harajuku station.

2. Kamakura
Okay, technically Kamakura is not in Tokyo at all and is actually about an hour outside of the city. But, as my absolutely favourite place to visit in Eastern Japan, I could not resist including it here. Kamakura is the place to go if you are hankering for a taste of old Japan - Buddhist temples and traditional food - but do not have time to go all the way to Kyoto or Nara in Western Japan. Visiting here feels like you are stepping back in time. Directions: Take the Shonan-Shinjuku line and get off at Kita Kamakura station.

Imperial Palace Entrance3. Ginza
For those who like flashy clothes, impressive architecture, clubs, and upscale shopping, Ginza is a fun place to spend time. Directions: Take the Tokyo Subway line and exit at Ginza station.

4. Tokyo Tower
The Tokyo Tower was built in 1958, is red and white and is actually 13 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower. Its base and surrounding areas also offer fun activities for kids. Directions: Take the Mita line and exit at Onarimon or take the Oedo line and exit at Akabanebashi station.

5. Imperial Palace
If you are in the mood for a look at the site of the famous ruling place of the Tokugawa Shoguns of the Edo period (lasting until about 140 years ago), visit the beautiful East Gardens of the Imperial Palace. The place has a regal serenity which fires the imagination while it pleasing architecture buffs. Directions: Take the Toei Mita line to Hibiya station.

Tokyo Train6. Chinatown in Yokohama
Chinatown in Yokoyama, like Kamakura, is technically not in Tokyo, but do not let that stop you from paying a visit. Stepping into China Town is like stepping into another world. From any of the ornate and colorful gates that greet you to the throngs of people and authentic Chinese food, China Town is a spectacle worth seeing. Directions: Take the Minato-Mirai line and get off at Motomachi-Chukagai station.

7. Shinjuku National Gardens
Shinjuku National Garden, or Shinjuku Gyoen, was completed in 1906 on the site of a private mansion belonging to a Lord Naito. It was later designated as a national garden at the end of World War II. It covers 144 acres and features gardens of Formal French, Formal English, and Japanese styles. Directions: Take the Maru-no-uchi line and get off at Shinjuku Gyoen Mae station.

About the Author
Enjoy your next trip to Tokyo even more by saving money. Learn the secrets to cheap travel as told by a fired, ex-travel agent at Don't Sugar Coat It.

Pictures
Ginza
Imperial Palace Entrance
Tokyo Train


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Friday, August 24, 2007

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand
By James Bukovsky

Map of PhuketPhuket has grown into one of the premier holiday destinations in South East Asia and is one of the busiest travel destinations in Thailand. It has replaced Bali as the most popular holiday island in the region.

What makes Phuket island such a great travel destination?
Phuket is first of all an inexpensive holiday destination. Phuket hotels, resorts and guesthouses can be found in all price categories and ratings and prices are considerably cheaper then what one would encounter in Europe or America.

Dining in restaurants or buying drinks in bars or clubs on Phuket is also less expensive then what most tourists are used to paying back in their home countries.

Phuket Beaches
The palm tree lined beaches of Phuket Island are of course world famous due to its crystal white sand and clear water of the Andaman Sea. Some of the nicest and most popular beaches found on Phuket Island are the beaches at Patong, Kamala, Karon, Kata and Nai Harn.

Promthep CapePhuket Nightlife
The Phuket nightlife is another reason why many tourists visit Phuket each year on holiday. Many tourists seem to keep coming back each year for especially the nightlife and bars of Phuket.

Most Phuket island nightlife venues can be found in Patong beach along the well known Soi Bangla. A number of large clubs are located along Bangla road in Patong including the very popular Tiger disco and the new Seduction Disco.

You can also find along Bangla road and the many small streets leading into Soi Bangla hundreds of beer bars. Each beer bar has a number of beautiful Thai ladies working for them who there to please the clients.

Phuket Shopping
Going shopping in Phuket in the past was not one of the most interesting activities for tourists due to the lack of a good variety of shops and products. Most of the shops sold the same tailor made clothing, bootleg movies and software and fake designer clothing.

Karon BeachOver the last few years however, a number of large shopping malls have opened on Phuket housing well known international retailers, unique local boutiques as well as international restaurant outlets such as Outback steakhouse and Burger King.

If you are going to visit Phuket for a holiday then please make sure to visit the brand new Phuket Junkceylon mall in Patong or the Central Carnival Mall along the Phuket by-pass road.

About the Author
Article by James Bukovsky. For more information about Phuket visit the Phuket Travel Guide. For great and inexpensive hotel accommodation in Phuket visit Club Bamboo.

Pictures
Map of Phuket
Promthep Cape, Phuket
Karon Beach, Phuket


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