Best Travel Spots in the South

Southern Living Magazine recently published a list of the best travel destinations in the South of the USA.  Here are some of the best:

Best Live Music Venue in Louisiana – House of Blues, New Orleans

Best Crab Cake in Maryland – The Crab Claw Restaurant, St. Michaels

Best Drive in West Virginia – New River Gorge, Fayette County

Best Lake in Alabama – Lake Guntersville

Best Literary Stop in Mississippi – Rowan Oak, Oxford

Best Live Music in Tennessee – Grand Ole Opry, Nashville

Best Attraction in Arkansas – Hot Springs National Park

Best Historic Site in Virginia – Colonial Williamsburg

Best Attraction in Georgia – Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

Best Dance Hall in Texas – Gruene Hall, Gruene


Fort McDowell Adventures

Visit us at www.fortmcdowelladventures.com

La Puesta del Sol and The Ranch provide service to groups of 50 to 1,600 and offer an unparalleled southwestern catering experience. Both venues feature a stage, dance floor and covered dining area with some of the best catering in Arizona: Featuring western menus, Mexican cuisine, authentic cowboy cookouts, and fine dining in the desert.

Our live performers add serious sizzle to your off-site event with a wide variety of pop, country, jazz, salsa, club dance, blues, and rock music selections. Groups can add additional flair to events with our interactive cowboy games, try their hand at the black jack table or take a ride on Chewys Tequila Bus. Built solely for the purpose of extending Southwestern hospitality, Fort McDowell Adventures provides a Wild West experience your group will never forget.

Welcome to the Fort McDowell Resort Destination:
the adventurous side of Scottsdale.
For a Customized Proposal, Please Call 480.816.6465. Thank you.


Sightseeing in Berlin-Our Top 20

How to spend a day in Berlin? EastSeven Berlin Hostel made a top 20 of popular sights.

Reichstag

Down below you find an overview of  some of the most beautiful and amazing sights in Berlin.  If you´re not sure jet how to spend your day in Berlin, just check out the top 20, with our recommendations on some of the coolest buildings, museums and parks Berlin has to offer! Some of the attractions are even for FREE!!!

For an in-depth look at all of these sights, and many more besides, join the Brewers Best of Berlin Day Tour. Brewers Berlin also offers a free sight seeing tour, which covers most of these sights. Tours also begin at our wonderful hostel.

OUR TOP 20:

  1. TV Tower – Built in 1969 as a symbol of East German socialism, this 368m tower, the largest structure in Germany, even has its own revolving café/restaurant. A trip to the top also offered a rare chance for East Germans to see what life on the other side of The Wall was really like.
  2. Reichstag – The German parliament building, re-opened in 1999 after the government and most of the ministries moved from Bonn to Berlin. British architect Lord Norman Foster redesigned this place, complete with a huge glass dome with public access, so you can watch the politicians at work.
  3. Brandenburg Gate – Every 10, 20 and 50 cent German Euro coin is minted with a picture of this big city gate on its reverse side. Stranded in a lonely no-mans land between 1961 and 89 thanks to the East German government, no other structure in Berlin better symbolises the temporary division of the city.
  4. Berliner Dom – Perhaps the most over-decorated protestant church in the world and once home to the Nazi partys Reich church. Bombed out during WW II, the Berlin Cathedral was restored to its current glory in 1993 – complete with a whopping great 7,200-pipe pipe organ.
  5. Jewish museum – German-Jewish relations have had their bad times, and surprisingly, although the exhibition names wouldnt give it away, their good times. Daniel Libeskind, the architect behind New Yorks Ground Zero memorial, designed this Museum.
  6. Museum Island – Surrounded on all sides by the River Spree, Museum Island is literally an island with museums on it, isnt that clever? It is not only home to some of the citys top class museums such as the Altes Museum and the Pergamon Museum, but also the Berliner Dom and the tranquil Lustgarten.
  7. Lustgarten – Dont be confused by the name, Berlins naked people are running around the citys 500acre Tiergarten just down the road. The Lustgarten started its life as a cabbage patch for the nearby city palace, later used as a military parade ground, now a grass garden.
  8. Holocaust Memorial – Berlins ultra-controversial memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe, 2,711 concrete blocks jutting off at offensive and suffocating angles. Co-incidentally only a stones throw away from the site of Adolf Hitlers former underground lair, the Führerbunker.
  9. Potsdamer Platz – This was the glitzy centre of Germanys debauched 1920s metropolis, and the site Europes first traffic light system. Smashed into rubble during WW II, its now home to Europes fastest elevator and a mass of steel and glass buildings said to represent the future of Berlin.
  10. Topography of Terror – Back in 1987 a group of students excavated, with little more than their bare hands, the cellars of Berlins former Gestapo and SS headquarters. The Topography of Terror is the fruit of their labour, an open-air exhibition documenting what happens when a totalitarian regime tortures its people to death for fun.
  11. Checkpoint Charlie – Berlins most famous crossing point between East and West and a lasting symbol of the citys fragile Cold War relations. Commemorated today by an ersatz replica of the original American checkpoint and two historically inaccurate pictures of Soviet and American soldiers.
  12. Gendarmenmarkt – Touted by many guidebooks as the prettiest square in Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt is famous for its two churches – one Protestant, one Catholic – each built opposite each other by the opposing religion. Not often that happens.
  13. DDR Museum – Using the paraphernalia of shopping, fashion and family life Berlins DDR museum attempts to introduce visitors to what for millions of East Germans was once everyday life. Play Hausfrau in an authentic DDR kitchen and living room, or experience first-hand what it was like to be spied on.
  14. Tacheles – One-time department store then SS headquarters in the heart of Berlins former Jewish quarter, the Tacheles was taken over by squatters in 91. Behind the buildings bombed out façade is a wealth of art studios, two cinemas, 3 bars, a beach bar, a café and a newly opened bourgeois restaurant.
  15. Hackescher Markt – Hackescher Markt was once home to booming businesses during the Industrial Revolution. Its now famous not only for its attractive station, but as a jumping off point to the nearby Hackescher Höfe complex.
  16. Karl Marx Allee – Rent a bike at the reception and explore this sweeping communist boulevard where the GDR Government used to proudly present their weapons of mass destruction at their May Day parades.
  17. Raw Temple – An alternative entertainment hub including an indoor skate hall, a former Nazi hide-out used now for freestyle rock climbing, an open air cinema and regular live music.
  18. Volkspark Friedrichshain – A beautiful park, excellent for jogging or having a picnic. In the middle youll find Friedrichshains highest hill, which provides a 78-metre high view over Berlins flat terrain. The hill was actually man-made to cover up a destroyed anti-aircraft bunker from World War II, as well as several tonnes of bombed out rubble.
  19. Stasi Headquarters – Take the U5 subway at Alexanderplatz to Magdalenenstrasse and visit the former headquarters of the Stasi – East Germanys cruel and meticulous secret police – in Normannenstr. The building has been transformed into a museum and you can walk through the preserved offices of some of the GDRs most powerful men. A disturbing look at Berlins very recent past.
  20. Schloss Charlottenburg – If you are interested in Prussian architecture and history but dont have time to travel to Potsdam, then Schloss Charlottenburg is the perfect inner-city alternative. This outstanding palace and its surrounding gardens are not only visually stunning, but will also give you a detailed insight into the lifestyle of the Prussian emperors.
Check out our Touristic Sightseeing Video:

Salvador Carnival 2010 – The World’s biggest Party

Salvador Carnival has entered the guiness records as the biggest street party in the planet. To welcome visitors from all over the world the artists at the Open House Barra.

Onice accommodations together with great parties with shows and free drinks (shows include Capoeira, Pro Dancers, and more).

Besides, there are funny contests where winners get free Abadas (Carnival passes) every Carnival day. For newbies, Salvador Carnival goes from Thursday (Feb11) to Wednesday noon (Feb 17). 

VIDEO – Carnival Parties at the Open House


Wicklow Ireland – Traveling Back Through the Ages

Want to travel back in time in Ireland? Wicklow County holds a treasure of site for the historically- and culturally-minded traveler. This story is courtesy of “West Coast Woman”, by Suzanne Barratt

First up is Powerscourt House and Gardens. Situated dramatically at the foot of Great Sugar Loaf Mountain in County Wicklow is one of the world’s great gardens and probably the finest in Ireland. It is without a doubt a place not to be rushed. It offers a sublime blend of formal gardens, sweeping Italian garden terraces, statues, fountains and ornamental lakes and a magnificent collection of over 200 varieties of shrubs and trees. Originally commissioned in the 1730s by the first Viscount Powerscourt, the gardens were finally completed in the 1870s by the 7th Viscount, who added the accessories of statues, urns and ornamental gates.

Sadly, the Palladian mansion, extensively altered between 1731 and 1741 by Georgian architect Richard Cassels, was reduced to a burnt-out shell after a fire in 1974. The Slazenger family, the present owners of Powerscourt, have restored the ground floor and upstairs ballroom. An exhibit at the entrance relates this and gives an excellent introduction to the history of the estate.

A suggestion: take a slow walk down the Italianate stairway to the Triton Lake and stand between the two statues of Pegasus to view the central fountain which is modeled on a 17th century work of Bernini. Energetic visitors might like to take in Powerscourt’s Waterfall-Ireland’s highest at 398 feet. Finally, do visit the cafe splendidly run by the Avoca Company and take tea or lunch on the outside terrace.

Next stop is Glendalough and the Military Road, without which, no stay in County Wicklow would be complete. Glendalough, “The Valley of Two Lakes,” is one of Ireland’s greatest wonders, sheltered by wooded slopes and containing the ruins of a monastic city and the spirits of generations of Celtic saints.

Founded in the sixth century by St. Kevin, this monastery was to become one of the most preeminent religious centers in Europe. For centuries it has attracted holy men and pilgrims to pray, and delight in the natural beauty of the place. St. Kevin, born in 498, was educated by monks and then ordained. Noted for his piety and disdainful of material wealth, he determined to live life as a hermit and sought out a secluded place in the Glendalough Valley.

Starting your visit at the excellent Glendalough Visitor Center is advised, as is taking a guided tour of the main monastic site to learn more of the signature landmark of the Round Tower, St. Kevin’s Cathedral, Celtic crosses and other monuments. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. If time permits you may enjoy a walk to both the Lower and Upper Lake. There is a cluster of more monuments, including St. Kevin’s Cell near the Upper Lake. It’s best to get to the site early so as to avoid large groups of students and allow you to wander freely among the ruins absorbing the powerful aura of timelessness and sanctity that pervades this fascinating place.

If you’re traveling by car it’s worth driving back from Glendalough to Powerscourt along the Military Road which is also known as the Wilderness Highway of Ireland or, more correctly, the R115. This road takes you through not only the very heart of the Wicklow Mountains, but across the most scenic, high heather desert and barren bog land of the county. You’ll pass through the remote and narrow Sally Gap which is the highest crossroads in all of Ireland and, as it happens, where St. Patrick is thought to have died. Built by the British to flush out Irish rebels after the 1798 uprising, the Military Road is said to be haunted by ghosts of the soldiers.

But enough of ghosts, the question is, do you believe in fairies? According to the guides at Bru na Boinne, Newgrange and Knowth, it is possibly the fact that people believed fairies could get “very upset” that has allowed these important archaeological sites to remain largely intact despite frequent invasions or more recent demand, or rural development.

Before the spread of the Celts, there was evidence that in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, small, structured races populated parts of Europe and the British Isles. A Celtic foundation myth tells that in Ireland, the Thuathe de Danaan or the People of the Goddess Danu, built and resided in the great barrows and tumuli that dot the landscape to this day. Displaced by the stronger, fearsome Celts, they eventually evolved into being “the little people,” the fairies and other enchanted beings who are rumored to continually resurface to haunt and protect the tombs and fairy mounds they once built. According to myths that have survived through the ages, to do damage to these Neolithic mounds will unleash the anger of the fairies.

Nine hundred years older than Stonehenge, and five hundred older than the Pyramids, Newgrange, the centerpiece of the Briu na Boinne (dwelling place of the River Boyne) complex of prehistoric passage tombs, dates back over 5,000 years.

The visitor center tells vou more of what is known about tbe building and significance of these passage tombs and, while undoubtedly functioned as burial tombs, archaeologists think they were much more. They’re just not sure what exactly.

What is certain is that both Newgrange and Knowth were designed with the sun in mind. At Newgrange, on the winter solstice the sun sweeps down the 62-foot passageway to strike the back chamber wall. If you can’t make the trip on that day your guide switches off all the lights and then simulates the effect as if by magic. It’s very impressive.

At Knowth, which has both an east and a west facing chamber, the sun shines on the central chamber during both winter and spring equinoxes. Both sites are reached from the visitor center via a time-ticketed shuttle minibus service. Bru na Boinne is very popular. It’s best to get there early or travel with a tour operator.


Visiting Boston on a Budget

Boston is the cradle of patriotism, the site of Paul Revere’s historic ride and home to the USS Constitution. The combination of old and new, historic and trendy, gives Boston its personality – and provides limitless opportunities for a visit that doesn’t require help from one of the city’s leaders in venture capital.

For more information on Boston, check the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.bostonusa.com. If you plan to stay in Boston, there’s no need to rent a car. The city’s public transit – known locally as “the T”, is an easy to follow color-coded system that is safe and inexpensive, just $2 per ride, with children riding free.

In good weather, the most affordable and efficient way to navigate Boston is on foot. And the best way to see the most historic sites – for free – is along the Freedom Trail.

One of the newest ways to enjoy Boston is with a stroll along the Rose Kennedy Greenway (www.rosekennedygreenway.org), which was officially dedicated in October. This string of parks and fountains replaces a giant eyesore of an elevated highway, which was taken down and buried beneath the city in the nation’s largest public works project known as the Big Dig.

Grab an ice cream, burger or fried foods at Sullivan’s on Castle Island in South Boston. From there, you can watch the boats heading in and out of Boston Harbor, feel the rumble of planes flying remarkably close overhead, and allow the children to let off some steam running around the playground.

Next best thing to Broadway? Get half-price sameday tickets to shows in Boston’s theater district at the BosTix booth at Copley Plaza or Faneuil Hall. The tickets also are listed online at www.artsboston.com.

Cheap Eats? If you can’t decide between Italian, Chinese, seafood, steak or virtually anything else, take a walk through Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where nearly every food or drink craving can be sati9fied. To save some dough, grab your food-to-go at one of the more than 40 restaurants and enjoy some people-watching instead of eating at a sit-down restaurant. There is seating available inside the hall (www.faneuilhallmarketplace.com).


Haunted Boston

Visit Haunted Boston. Some of the most intriguing figures in the nation are spending their eternal rest in the Boston area. Just one free visit to the Old Granary Burying

Ground provides a history lesson for the thousands who come each year to see the graves of noted patriots John Hancock, John Adams and Robert Treat Paine – who all signed the Declaration of Independence. Also buried here are Paul Revere and victims of the Boston Massacre. Established in 1660 in what used to be the southernmost portion of the city, the burial grounds are now in the heart of the downtown bustle, just steps from the Boston Common and the Park Street subway station. It’s one of three cemeteries on the Freedom Trail (www.thefreedomtrail.org).


Cool Off in Florida’s Natural Spring Waters

There’s nothing more invigorating than a dip in a cool, blue spring on a sultry summer day. And there’s no shortage of springs in north Florida, which has one of the highest concentrations of first-magnitude freshwater springs in the world. Why not combine a trip to one of Florida’s natural springs with your stay in a Florida Hostel.

IchetuCknee Springs, just north of Fort White in Columbia County, is always a winner. Information: (386) 497-4690; www.floridastateparks.org/ichetuckneesprings/. But if you don’t like crowds or want to try something new, check out these hidden gems:

In the depths of Troy Springs just outside of Branford, you will find the remains of the Civil War-era steamboat Madison, which was scuttled in the spring run in 1863 to keep it from being captured. Swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the crystalline blue, 70-foot-deep spring waters, or paddle a canoe or kayak across the spring mouth to get a glimpse of the wreckage. The park has picnic tables, restrooms, a walkway and a riverside dock for canoeists and boaters on the Suwannee River. Located off County Road 425, 1.3 miles north of U.S. Highway 27. 674 N.E. Troy Springs Road, Branford. Information: (386) 935-4835, www.floridastateparks.org/troyspring.

Hart Springs outside of Bell in Gilchrist County is one of the largest spring-fed swimming areas in the state. The county-owned park features a half-mile boardwalk through the pristine cypress hammock, a volleyball court, boat rentals, RV and tent camping, covered picnic areas, and two air-conditioned pavilions for family gatherings. 4240 S.W. 86th Ave., Bell. Information: (352) 463-3444, www.hartsprings.com

Juniper Springs, with its clear blue waters and generous swimming area, is one of the hidden gems of the Ocala National Forest. Visitors can camp, swim and canoe at the site, which also offers canoe rentals, restrooms, concessions, a visitor center, museum, picnic facilities and showers. Juniper Springs is five miles west of the junction of State Roads 19 and 40 on the north side of State Road 40. Information: (352) 625-0546; www.floridaparks.com/floridafederalpark.

Rainbow Springs State Park, the state’s fourth largest spring, is southwest of Ocala and feeds into the scenic Rainbow River. You can swim or paddle in the cool spring waters, picnic in the park, take a hike or go birding along the nature trails. Information: (352) 465-8555, www.floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings.


Visiting the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy – Try a Hike

Thinking of the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana) in Southern Italy evokes many images of romance … seaside activities and sunny beaches. But there are other aspects of visiting this beautiful region of Italy. Small resort towns of Positano and Amalfi have much to offer, including culture, shopping, boating, fine dining, and 5 star hotels. But, for nature lovers, there is another less-explored side to Amalfi. Situated at the foot of rugged mountain peaks that form the Sorrentine peninsula, the hillside villages along the Amalfi coast are perfect starting points for nature walks and hikes.

There are hikes and trails that have been mapped out, at varying degrees of difficulty. If you prefer a leisurely walk through forests overlooking the sea, this area is for you. There are also more difficult trails leading to the peaks and between towns for the more adventurous.

Here’s an example of one of our favorite Amalfi Coast hikes, which leads from the town square of the town of Amalfi to the small hilltown of Pogerola. From the main square in front of the Cathedral of St. Andrew, ascend the main street for 500 yards, until the road goes through an archway under a block of houses. Then take the side road to the left (Via Casamare). Follow this around a hairpin bend to it’s end. The path starts here with steps climbing the hillside, and ultimately leading directly to the main square in Pogerola.

This path provide an attractive route to or from the hilltop village of Pogerola. The easily graded and exceptionally well-built path is unusual in that it goes through light woodland rather than farmed terraces with ever wider views as you gain altitude. The path winds its way towards the mountains, climbing the northern flank of a side spur of the main Amalfi Valley.

Walking time: approximately 1 hour.

Search and book accommodation in Amalfi and Sorrento.


Top 40 Places to Visit in Florida

Visiting the United States? Plan a trip to America’s tropical paradise: Florida. There are an endless array of exciting activities and places to visit in Florida. Looking for some tips? Here are the top 40 places to visit and things to do in Florida:

  1. 1) Take a guided tour and explore Miami’s Art Deco district
  2. 2) Visit Aquatica, the new water park in Orlando
  3. 3) Florida’s oyster capital in Apalachicola
  4. 4) Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates in Fort Meyers
  5. 5) Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of America Art in Winter Park
  6. 6) Antique stores in Mt. Dora and popular Renninger’s Antique Center
  7. 7) Fort Lauderdale’s waterfront mansions and shopping at Las Olas Boulevard
  8. 8 ) Take a surfing lesson at Cocoa Beach
  9. 9) Ghost Tours in St. Augustine
  10. 10) Visit the new Jungala, an interactive experience at Busch Gardens Africa
  11. 11) Bike the Tallahassee – St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail
  12. 12) Fort Walton Beach’s annual Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival
  13. 13) Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge off Melbourne Beach
  14. 14) Universal Orlando Resort
  15. 15) Explore the Everglades National Park and it’s 1.5 million acres of subtropical landscape
  16. 16) West Palm Beach’s Sunfest Music Festival in May
  17. 17) John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota
  18. 18) Silver Sands Factory Outlet Stores in Destin
  19. 19) Enjoy stone crabs at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami
  20. 20) Victorian village of Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
  21. 21) Big Cypress Seminole Reservation in the Everglades
  22. 22) Ybor City, Tampa’s Latin Quarter
  23. 23) Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art
  24. 24) Experience race driving at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, Daytona 500 Experience
  25. 25) Caladesi Island State Park
  26. 26) Collect shells at Sanibel and Captiva islands
  27. 27) Enjoy interactive experiences at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola
  28. 28) Swim with the dolphins at Dolphin World in the Florida Keys
  29. 29) Take a houseboat ride on the Suwanee River
  30. 30) Try the Shuttle Launch Experience at the Kennedy Space Visitor Complex
  31. 31) World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine
  32. 32) Take a classic wooden roller coaster ride in Winter Haven’s Cypress Gardens Adventure Park
  33. 33) Walt Disney World in Orlando
  34. 34) Shop flea markets at the Big Cypress Market Place in Naples
  35. 35) Enjoy a nightly outdoor celebration of sunset at Key West’s Mallory Square
  36. 36) See manatees at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
  37. 37) Kayak or canoe on Grayton Beach State Park in Western Lake
  38. 38) Watch a sunset at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach
  39. 39) Re-live the golden age at Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in Palm Beach
  40. 40) Learn about life as an early settler in Florida at Spanish Point in Osprey