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This article is part one of a five part series about an adventurous experience the author had traveling all over Colombia, South America by way of taxis and busses with a surfboard in tow. It is a detailed description of what it is like to travel on a budget in a dangerous and mysterious country like Colombia.

Deep Inside Colombia- Crossing The Andes with a Surfboard

Deep Inside Colombia- Crossing The Andes with a SurfboardPART 1.Ill never forget the look on the face of that Colombian campesino man. My wife just explained to him in Spanish that what I am holding under my arm is indeed a surfboard, despite the fact that we were standing in a Colombian village that was located somewhere in the middle of the Andes Mountains, hundreds of miles away from any ocean. After hearing this news the man made a joke about us getting bad directions. He then flashed a smile that revealed a mouth full of rotten teeth. Soon after that he shook his head, tucked his hands into the front pockets of his hand-woven Inca style poncho, turned, and moved on down the only street in his town. When the man reached the center of town a gust of wind swept down the street and blew the black fedora hat off his head. As I was watching him chase after it through a cloud of dust, I thought to myself; I gotta get to the ocean. I was beginning to feel like a fish out of water. Surfers cannot stay away from the ocean for too long, or they start to dry out. As I was standing on that dirt street in that dusty little town, I realized that I had not seen the ocean in over a month. More importantly, I had not surfed in it. Halfway through a two month excursion across the country of Colombia, in South America, we were on our way to a small Caribbean beach resort on the northeastern edge of the country for a much needed break from the madness we had experienced so far on that trip. We had spent the holidays traveling from Bogot to Medelln, and then back to Bogot again to meet and visit with various different members of my wifes family. There had been some mishaps along the way involving pick-pockets and miscreants. Up to that point it was not fun, and we will leave it at that. Traveling on a tight budget in a foreign country is the best way to experience the true culture of that country, but it can be quite taxing on your soul. We could not afford plane tickets to fly all over the country, so we had to take busses and taxis instead. Some of those bus rides took over two days to reach our destination. We traveled through some of the most remote areas of Colombia, changing busses and hailing taxis the whole way. Along the way we saw some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, and experienced some very interesting, intense, and strange things. Black magic and evil curses are practiced in many areas of Colombia, and I cannot say any more on that subject, for fear that you would think of me as crazy. There are things that cannot be explained in this world, and a lot of them happen in Colombia. There were other things that happened to us that were even more terrifying than black magic. Lets just say its never a good thing to have your bus stopped in the middle of the night by rough looking men with machine guns on a winding, dark, mountainous road. That is whole other story for another time. Back to our main story; we were about four hours North of Bucaramanga, and waiting to board yet another one of those colorful busses. All I could think about at that moment was surfing and relaxing at this place called Tayrona. I was told you can sit in your own thatched-hut choza and watch the waves from your front porch. For those who are not familiar with the sport of surfing, that sounds about as good as it gets for a surfer. It had not been easy carrying that surfboard all over Colombia. We landed in Bogot in the middle of the country a month before, and I had been schlepping it around with our other luggage from one bus or taxi to the other ever since. It was like I was living my own little version of the movie Fitzcaraldo, and my surfboard was the ship that was being carried for many miles across dry land. I was determined to make the effort pay off.While we were waiting for our bus in that little mountain village we were inundated by the usual local people trying to sell us stuff. My wife, being a Colombian native did most of the talking for those negotiations. These little villages along the main roads of Colombia survive on money from people who are just passing through, or waiting for a bus. The local indigenous people sell everything from bags of purified water, to homemade empanadas (a meat and potato filled turnover made with corn-meal dough). My wife and I had been surviving on food and water provided by those people for most of our trip. Amazingly, neither of us had been sick yet. Albeit, most of this food had been delicious, you have to wonder about the cooking and cleaning practices in a town that has no running water. Something tells me that if the cook had a choice between using their last bucket of water to wash their hands before cooking, or having water to drink the next day, theyd forego the cleanliness. I tried not to think about stuff like that on that trip. I only thought about how much flavor those homemade items had with their homegrown ingredients. People sure know how to cook in Colombia. Wow! The food in that country just seemed to have a lot more flavor than the food I was used to in the United States. We really experienced the authentic food of Colombia; buuelos, pandebonos, arepas, you name it and we tried it along the way. We were on a budget, yet eating very good food. The people who made this food were as poor as one could be, but they could make food like no-one else on earth. The freshness, lack of pesticides, and the nutrient-rich soils also have a lot to do with why the food tastes so good.After we ate our share of empanadas that we purchased from a little old village woman carrying a hand-woven basket, we were ready for a freshly blended fruit smoothie. There were always several of these little smoothie stands in every town that we stopped at along the way, and we always made sure that we sampled at least one. No matter how small of a stand, the vender always had electricity to run their blender, ice box, and boom-box. I immediately ordered a couple of tomate de rbol smoothies at a nearby stand, and then we sat down on an old wooden bench provided by the smoothie vendor. We were told by the driver of the last bus that our next bus should be along in no time at all. It had been my experience up to that point that this bus driver may, or may not be right. Sometimes the bus came right away and the transfer went smoothly. Other times we ended up waiting long periods of time between transfers. Those ones did not go so smoothly. The mountain roads and leftist guerilla laden areas that these busses travel through can cause long delays, to say the least. Hanging out in that small town in the middle of nowhere in the foothills of the Andes Mountains waiting for a bus was quite nerve-racking. The local people of those types of towns were always very suspicious of anyone that stayed behind after a bus came through. Most people just passed right through. They were especially suspicious of a Gringo with a surfboard and a Colombian wife. There was a war going on in that country. Everywhere we went everyone wanted to know whose side we were on. As we were sitting in that dusty, one-horse town in a remote area of Colombia, I knew we were in for a long, harrowing wait. Copyright 2006. Michael P. Connelly

Discover The Beauty Of Tuscany Italy

Discover The Beauty Of Tuscany Italy

Every time I write about Tuscany Italy, my heart and my whole body for that matter experiences an intense feeling of calmness. I know exactly that this feeling comes from the relaxed atmosphere that this part of Italy near Florence gives off. I have found a perfect balance of enjoying the fascinating city of Florence and its cultural activities at the same time I refurbish energy by either doing a farm holiday or staying in a luxury villa in the countryside of Tuscany. Wallow in Luxury in Tuscany Italy The words luxury and farm might scare you away, firstly because everyone associates luxury with expensive and farm with very little comfort. Let me tell you of some fantastic places where I have been and you will see how this is much more gratifying than staying at a hotel in the city centre. The Fattoria il Lago farmhouse is found about 40 kilometres north-east of Florence, just outside the small town of Dicomano, hidden away in the olive tree covered Tuscan hillsides. The extensive property houses three areas which are referred to as villages, each having apartment accommodations and an entirely different landscape to admire. The main lodging building is called La Villa and has a pleasurable view of the Dicomano Valley. Just a short walk away you find Lago village with its corresponding pool accompanied by a beautiful garden. The third area is the most quaint sleeping quarters called Macerato, embedded among all the hues of green possible. This kind of vacation rental is as comfortable and reposeful as the luxury villas, only that you are sharing a common ground with other tourists. When you get your Tuscany car rental, you should ask for a good map and maybe even ask them if they can give more explicit directions towards Dicomano being as the farmhouse is found off other country roads. Usually any holiday home in Tuscany offers the option of giving full directions when booking and also being picked up at nearby train or bus stations. You just have to let them know beforehand.The 11th c. medieval monastery of San Lorenzo a Linari in Sovicille, south of Siena is one of those vacation rental places in Tuscany where you can have it all and still have your own breathing space, having your freedom from stress. This magnificent lodging is individual apartments tempting you with Tuscany tours such as viewing the hillside and mountains seated in a four-wheel drive vehicle, horse-back riding or an aerial view from a hot-air balloon. And if you do not want to miss out on the lovely beaches, there are excursions to the Mediterranean seashore, too.Staying in Tuscany in the Chiantii area in the luxury villa estate called Villa de Dievole near the old town of Vagliali. As all villas used to belong to the Italian noble class, the exclusiveness and privacy is incomparable. The decoration in many has been respected in the restoration process, therefore you are living among many centuries of history. This 16th century villa has rooms and suites with a private guesthouse, too.Without overtaxing ones strength, your Tuscany Italy holiday tours can be choked full of emotions and peacefulness.

From Windmills To Diamonds: Travel To Holland

From Windmills To Diamonds: Travel To Holland

Tulips, windmills and wooden shoes might still be a draw to this Dutch region for some travelers; however, Holland is a far more versatile locale with an international and maritime history extending farther back than most of the rest of Europe, including the establishment of New Amsterdam as a major trading city, which became New York when the British took over. Holland, particularly Amsterdam, is also well known for its diamond manufacturing and polishing industry. If that tickles your fancy, make sure to visit the Amsterdam Diamond Center located in the center of the city.Before you continue with this informative guide to Holland, make note that although the name "Holland" is used commonly in everyday language, the country is strictly called The Netherlands and internationally recognized as such.Red Lights and RembrandtBesides being the capital city, Amsterdam has enough to offer to fill your entire vacation. The unavoidable multiculturalism has brought Amsterdam to the forefront of controversial equality and human rights issues. Muslims, Jews, Dutch and Surinamese all have a very active role in the life and politics of the city. The Anne Frank House is an extremely popular sight with a new exhibit at the end that discusses the modern day conflict between freedom of speech and respect for cultural and religious diversity. Amsterdam is also home to the Van Gogh Museum and the newly restored Rembrandt Museum.The Dutch acquired an extensive collection of colonies during the 18th and 19th centuries, one of which was Suriname, located on the northern coast of South America. Suriname finally gained its independence in 1975 and through an education exchange program the Surinamese population remains predominant in Amsterdam. The cultural flair adds richness to the city in the form of contemporary music, art and exquisite cuisine. Make sure to dine in a Surinamese restaurant at least once!Amsterdam is also notorious for its Red Light District and Coffee Shops. Stroll through the winding streets at night for an incredibly diverse experience and stop at one of the bustling pubs for delicious locally brewed beer. Also, many visitors enjoy seeing the city from the water. There are boat tours offered on an hourly schedule during the summer months that take you through the picturesque canals and past charming old faades.Timeless and TraditionalEven though Amsterdam is a modern hub in the globalized world, there is still an incredible amount of tradition and history prevalent throughout The Netherlands. Visit the nearby town of Alkmaar in the summer to take part in the centuries-old cheese market and festival. Locals don traditional dress and haul giant rounds of cheese through the town square for weighing. After your fill of diary, wander through this seaside town's canals and shops. Travel through central Holland to the medieval town of Utrecht, established around 47 AD. The 14th century wharves, cathedrals and Roman architecture are sure to transport any traveler to another place in time.For international travelers, Holland exists in a class of its own. Whether you enjoy the bustling urban experience or the intimate countryside adventure, you will find what you are looking for in Holland.

Tallahassee Entices Ladies To Enjoy Art, Antiques And Appetizers

Tallahassee Entices Ladies To Enjoy Art, Antiques And Appetizers

What do women want? For many, it's the array of eateries, galleries and specialty shops that can be found on an Art, Antiques and Appetizers tour. More than 20 museums and galleries featuring folk art to fine art stay open late the first Friday of every month in Tallahassee, Fla., with the new First Friday Gallery Hop. A three-hour trolley tour can help take it all in as the state's capital city offers a conglomeration of cultural complements.Whether donning T-shirts and jeans or high heels and pearls, ladies get a chance to catch up and laugh during antique-hunting side trips to nearby Havana, Fla., or travel the town boutique bopping for stylish new accessories. When it comes time to sit back, relax and savor samplings, Tallahassee has diverse dining choices, from fine French restaurants featuring appetizers such as sauted foie gras to rustic farmhouses, known for complimentary boiled peanuts. With its mixture of tree-lined roads, deep-rooted history, rolling hills, moss-draped oaks, cool climate and Southern-style hospitality, Tallahassee is an excellent location for a girlfriends' getaway for the weekend. The city features a variety of other sights and adventures, including the site of America's first Christmas, a wildlife habitat, capitol buildings, civil rights monuments, fascinating museums of history, highly acclaimed fishing, hunting adventures and nearby beaches.

Thinking About Traveling To Australia

By size, English-speaking Australia is the 6th largest country in the world and it extends on to include a group of islands - one of which you might be familiar: Tasmania! Other countries close by include New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Zealand, and a few more. So if you're thinking about traveling to Australia, you might appreciate knowing a few answers to some questions that people usually ask before making a trip to 'The Land Down Under' based either on rumors they've heard or the experience of others.Answers About Appliance CompatibilityFor instance, you might appreciate knowing what personal appliances of yours will work in this country, like a blow dryer or some other appliance that you need to 'plug in somewhere'. You should note that although the country is closer to American culture than most of the others, the outlets in Australia are not the same as the outlets in the U.S. If you're an American traveling to Australia, you're going to need to get some socket adapters and you might also need to get some voltage adapters so that you can get some of your electronic appliances from back home to work. This is of course assuming that these adapters are not already in place at the hotel that you stay at (like if you were to visit with a relative or stay with a friend). If you want to bring along some VHS videos (like home videos) with you on your trip however, you won't have a problem displaying these because all VHS videos play on Australian VCRs. And if you can manage to get your hands on a DVD player that works in any location of the world, then you'll certainly have no problem with displaying these disks either. Other things like CD players and personal computers should work fine too, but your current telephone won't work at all unless it can operate on a GSM-900 frequency. Should you decide to stay at a hotel, these accommodations should already be put in place. They're really only relevant if again, you decide to visit with a relative or stay with a friend - or anywhere that might not support or use American-based electronics.Answers About TippingTipping in a foreign country is always a concern, as we're often not too sure how much to tip or if even tipping is part of the custom. Although it's customary in the United States, it's actually an insult to tip a serviceman in other parts of the world. And what makes the issue even more confusing is that the rules about when to tip, who to tip, and how much to tip change all the time. Fortunately, the tipping rules in Australia are pretty simple. If you want to tip, feel free but note that most service charges are already included in any bill that you pay.Answers About Touring the LandBecause of its immense size, touring about Australia is nothing short of extreme temptation- so you may appreciate a little lesson in its geography. For instance, If you plan to rent a car and create your own personal excavation, understand that most cities are situated around its coast. As you travel inward, toward the center of this continent, you enter areas that are less populated and the more inward you go - the more remote things become. Although this certainly presents a circumstance of uncharted adventure for you, you're strongly advised to stick to the cities along the outer limits unless you bring along an experienced guide. As long as you stick to the populated areas, you'll be fine and you may come to enjoy some of the most attractive sights in the world like:The Great Barrier Reef - located off the northeastern coast of Australia, it's the largest coral reef in the world.The Red Centre - home to the largest monolith in the world; otherwise known as the Ayers Rock.Sydney - a popular city that offers Opera House entertainment plus the Bondi, Chinaman, and Manly beaches.Melbourne - another city known for its stylish architecture, dining, and shoppingCanberra - the most modernized center of the world that serves as Australia's own capital as well.Of course, you wouldn't want to miss Australia's own unique plant life either - a sight that you simply won't find anywhere else in the world. And because Australia is rich with distinctive plant life, you're bound to catch sight of some unusual animals that you've probably only seen in books!This certainly isn't an extensive list of all your concerns, but hopefully it answered some of your thoughts about traveling to this great land.Travel by Bus Australia's main cities can be well traveled by buses, as they frequently tour these areas on a regular basis. Moving about within urban and rural cities (up to 30 miles from city limits), you can visit some of the popular tourist attractions with discount tickets or ticket purchased directly from the bus driver.Travel in Australia by TaxiTraveling by taxi provides an extremely convenient way to move about when traveling short distances to important centers and residential districts. Like traveling by taxi in the United States, you can flag down a taxi anywhere in Australia including airports, train and bus stations, or even on the street.Traveling in Australia by Car / Car Rental Traveling by car rental in Australia is an inexpensive mode of traveling around the cities - especially since some car rental services in the area discount rentals that are arranged for three days or more. Rentals require a driver's license and a credit card that's issued to a driver between the ages of 23 to 70.

Restaurants of Breckenridge

Breckenridge's restaurants are almost as delicious as the mountains, no matter what your preference is, I guarantee you will find delicious food that will stimulate your taste buds. Let's start with the American cuisine of Breckenridge.
If you enjoy a nice import micro or a fresh brewed beer with your delicious meal be sure to check out the Breckenridge brewery. The Breckenridge brewery was founded in 1990 and was instantly a local's favorite. Take a seat in the dining room and enjoy the view of the 10-mile range while dining on excellent pub grub at a very reasonable price. They are open for both lunch and dinner so for the very best brews and grub make sure you stop by the Breckenridge Brewery. My personal favorite beer at the brewery is the avalanche; it is very smooth yet hoppy flavored ale.
Downstairs at Eric's is the greatest sports bar in Breckenridge. Eric's specializes in wings, pizza, beer, but they also offer many televisions with direct TV. This will allow you to watch your favorite local sporting event. Eric's food is that of the bar variety with half pound burgers which will fill any skiers belly. Eric's buffalo wings are the best in summit county and their pizza is outstanding. Their sandwiches and dinners are simply the best.
Eric's also features Breckenridge's finest game room, conveniently located in the lobby, with pinball and classic arcade games. The game room has the tendency to keep your children extremely busy and happy. Try Eric's if you want good times, great food and entertainment for the whole family.
Rasta Pasta has been rated the number one restaurant in Breckenridge for the last three years. Rasta Pasta features the very best in pasta dishes ranging from ravioli to an amazing jerk chicken pasta dish. There pasta dishes use the most amazing spiced vegetables, meats, and seafood which form into an explosion of flavors in your mouth. All of there dinners come with garlic bread and a salad with a delicious sun dried vinaigrette dressing. Rasta Pasta's atmosphere is a mix of reggae meets mountain town. My advice is to arrive around 4:30pm or 5:00pm at the latest to beat the mountain traffic.
Breckenridge ski area has four mountain dining lodges; you can either try one of the many sandwiches sub fusion offers, or try a huge burrito from burrito borders all at the Vista Haus. The Bergenhoff restaurant offers an incredible breakfast which will fill the heartiest appetite; they also have a great lunch menu with great burgers and sandwiches of all varieties.
If you want some of the best views of the mountain head to the 10-mile station for some buffalo chili or a delicious buffalo burger. The Maggie at the base of peak 9, is a nice place to be at and they offer spirits and a delicious lunch. Tiffany's in the Beaver Run resort has live Apre ski entertainment.
The Hearthstone is the very finest of fine dining in Breckenridge with delicious wild game dishes, like elk chops, and fresh water trout. The heart stone offers the most romantic dinners in a victorian house setting, with some of the best culinary cuisine money can buy. So if you do not mind spending a little extra cash to get the very best dinning experience ever, try the Hearthstone.
We hope to see you soon!

Summary

This article is part one of a five part series about an adventurous experience the author had traveling all over Colombia, South America by way of taxis and busses with a surfboard in tow. It is a detailed description of what it is like to travel on a budget in a dangerous and mysterious country like Colombia.