Namibia’s deserts & dunes

Namibia’s deserts & dunes

Namibia is an African country that is home to two deserts and many sand dunes. Over the years, there have been many cultural influences in Namibia, with annual festivals celebrating the country’s independence in 1990. If you are planning to visit Namibia’s deserts and dunes with your family, consider these useful tips and guidance that will make your trip an unforgettable experience.
The living desert tour

This fascinating guided tour of the world’s oldest desert must not be missed. You will discover the amazing landscape and stunning sand dunes including the Martian-looking plants that grow abundantly. The living desert tour is available throughout the whole year and can be booked in advance on most travel agencies’ websites.

Insurance

If you are thinking about hiring a car for your family trip while exploring the Namibian deserts and dunes, you should consider car excess direct insurance as you will be covered for an excess of up to £4,000 if the vehicle breaks down gets damaged, or stolen. This is certainly something to consider especially if you are travelling with your spouse and want to share the driving.

Safaris

The safaris of Africa offer iconic sights that no visitor should miss out on. The Etosha National Park has over 100 different mammal types including lions, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. During the summer months, you can catch a glimpse of the pink flamingos that flock to Namibia and occupy the rivers in their vast community.

Sossusvlei Dunes

By far the most amazing place to explore outside Windhoek has to be the Sossusvlei Dunes. This Namibian desert is home to many wild creatures from jackals to wolves. It is a place worth visiting with your family as the desert starts at the Orange River and goes all the way through the breathtaking red sand dunes. These red sand dunes are in fact the tallest in the world and will leave you completely mesmerized. You can get an even better view in the late afternoon when the enormous clouds create shadows on the dunes and intensify their peaks and troughs. This mountainous location can be explored on foot, but make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes as you will be trekking through the tall dunes for several hours.

The Namibian weather

The climate in Namibia is semi-desert with hot summers and cool winters. In July and August, temperatures can rise as high as 40 degrees Celcius. In winter months, temperatures rarely drop to below freezing, but along the coast it is much colder with frequent rainfall from October to early spring. The rest of the year however is very dry and sunny with up to 300 days a year of sunshine. Late spring and summer are the perfect seasons for planning your family holiday to Namibian deserts.

 

Cultural Highlights of Cyprus

Cultural Highlights of Cyprus

There has been human activity on Cyprus for thousands of years and this Mediterranean island has some of the oldest history and culture in the world. Its sunny climate also makes it a popular vacation destination and a visit provides a chance to enjoy some of its heritage. If you decide to make the trip, get some good single trip insurance in place to deal with all eventualities, pack some warm-weather clothes, arrange flights and accommodation, and get ready to enjoy some impressive culture.
Kourion Archeological Site

Excavations at this site have revealed a wealth of treasures in relation to the history of Cyprus. It was the location of a city kingdom that came to prominence in the 2nd century BC, with some of the buildings at the site including impressive villas, Christian Basilica, and a complex of baths. However, the most famous is a Greco-Roman theatre, which has been lovingly restored so that visitors can enjoy musical concerts in the style of the people that once inhabited Kourion.

Byzantine Art

Art enthusiasts can take a designated west or east route on the island that will lead them to a number of locations featuring religious works of art. Most of the places are free to enter, with some of the best including the Church of Agion Apostolon, Stavrovouni Monastery, and the Church of Agios Lazaros. The buildings feature ancient frescoes and religious icon paintings dating back hundreds of years to make a trip around them definitely worthwhile.

Cyprus Museum

This museum in Lefkosia was first opened in 1888 and has collected a wealth of cultural and historical pieces over the years to put on display to the public. These range from ancient weapons to pottery, artwork, sculptures, and archaeological finds from around the island. There are fourteen rooms in all to take in, so visitors can easily spend a day steeping themselves in the culture and history of Cyprus.

Cuisine

The Mediterranean cuisine of Cyprus relies on a mix of fresh ingredients, pungent spices and herbs, and olive oil. A local specialty on the island is Mezedes, which comprises a range of small delicacies that can include olive, snail, fish, vegetable, and meat dishes. A typical meal can comprise of up to thirty small servings with drinks and there are many cafes and restaurants where visitors can try this Cypriot cuisine.

A Cyprus vacation is something that anyone will enjoy and taking in the culture of this island is worth doing while there. There are plenty of attractions for this, with those shown above being only a few of the highlights. Make sure to take in one or more of them on a visit to have some fun experiences.

 

Why travelers need their own blog

Why travelers need their own blog

For a lot of travelers hand written diaries are becoming a thing of the past. Of course, they are a good means of future personal reflection, and perhaps a means of documenting evens on your travels that you don’t necessarily want your grandmother to read about! But let’s face it, almost every traveler has a tablet computer or a laptop and some want to share their experience in more detail than a Facebook status and say a lot more than is possible in a tweet. Not only this but regular blogging becomes a future-proof diary which some travelers go on to compile into a book or an eBook, some can then be published and money can be made.

On the subject of money, lets not forget that you can be paid for individual blogs also and a lot of hostels and guesthouses will let you stay there for free in return for a mention or good review. The same goes for a lot of tour and activity packages. If you are new to blogging, the first thing you need is to get a web hosting account,

By blogging you are also teaching people about other cultures, sharing tips with other travelers, showing people some of the planets amazing sights and places and sharing experiences that some people will only ever read about in your blog (or dream about). You can also meet some amazing people along the way through your blog. I’d never met Mitch & Taylor from Common Ground in Thailand if it wasn’t for blogging. A couple of cool guys who started their own hostel and now even their own clothing line selling Thai style clothes.

Pai Thailand

Some of my relatives (especially the elderly ones) will never take part in a random unorganised trek through the jungle for 11 miles to camp at a waterfall and party with 7 relative strangers, who become good friends instantly. Or spend a few nights will hill tribes or swimming with whale sharks amongst the pristine reefs of the Andaman sea. But they can get as close as possible to living through the experience by reading about what I did and checking out the pictures and videos. This is quite a wonderful thing.

Perhaps the most important part of blogging while you travel is that you get to relive the experience in years to come when you read back through what you have done and reading about the things that you could otherwise have forgotten about. This gives you so much inspiration to get out there and have new adventures and do it all over again.

FINDING A SLICE OF CYPRUS IN FLORIDA

FINDING A SLICE OF CYPRUS IN FLORIDA

It had been nearly 15- years since I’d seen home, or at least the Florida I used to call home while growing up. I have been working in the Mediterranean for quite some time, helping struggling families become more self-sufficient as well as subsidising my income as a food writer and consultant for various hotels. The work has been incredibly rewarding but travelling between Athens and Cyprus, and various other capital cities in these regions had taken a toll on my soul, that my need to go home became overwhelming. I was leaving during the height of the holiday season, so I really had to compare any flights to Vegas from one travel agency to another. Because I usually route through the UK (I have family there too) I connect my flights to Orlando when I travel to and from Greece, the Greek Islands and the Cypriote Island.

When I did get home, I found it difficult to change back to ‘western food’, mainly because my system was used to eating organic vegetables, rich meats and the freshest seafood caught in the mornings but finding good Greek food in Florida seemed to be a harder task than catching a goat in the rain….

 FINDING A SLICE OF CYPRUS IN FLORIDA

My Big Fat Greek Restaurant (Opa!)

My first stop was the Fort Lauderdale restaurant with a name reminiscent of a movie I absolutely love. We were seated outside, I assume because there was so many of us and inside seemed quite full. I ordered some traditional wine for everyone to taste while the kids munched on their bread-baskets.

There was just so much on the menu, not all of it was what I would call ‘Greek’, but I think it’s to cater for a variety of people and include people who might not necessarily think that they’ll enjoy traditional Grecian foods. But since I wanted everyone to be adventurous a little, I asked everyone to order something different so others could get a little taster as well. Overseas, a meal is very much a group event, it’s all shared and enjoyed with good people.

FINDING A SLICE OF CYPRUS IN FLORIDA

The highlights were the mousaka, the salads (especially the berry and feta one), grilled shrimp and octopus, the meat lovers platter basically had to be ordered twice because it was devoured once it hit the table. For dessert we all had a side of rice pudding and the galaktobouriko which is a custard tartlet made with phyllo pastry.

We ordered far too much food and apologised to our very understanding waiter (we are an energetic family). The service isn’t the fastest but the restaurant has good food, a great environment and they encourage you to get your Greek on.

 FINDING A SLICE OF CYPRUS IN FLORIDA

This is a great Greek restaurant in Florida, I’m sure there are others and I wish I had more time to try their menus but I was only staying for a few days and this dinner was my ‘asfalés taxídi’ before a ride back to the airport for my flight back to my other home away from home…with some delicious leftovers.

 

The Top Hostel Travel Essentials

The Top Hostel Travel Essentials

Before you leave for your travels, make sure you have included all the items on our checklist to make your trip a better and less stressful one.

Lock

The one item you don’t want to forget is a lock, it will at least make you feel more at ease during your travels. Most hostels offer a place to store your valuables, but it’s best to keep a lock on your valuables at all times. When purchasing a lock, it is a good idea to go for the thinner variety as they are more likely to fit any closure.

Earplugs

A packing essential for light sleepers, you will be thankful for taking these when staying in a hostel or for those long bus or plane journeys. There are days when you will need a good rest, and you don’t want  someone else’s snoring preventing you from getting this.

Sleeping Liner

A sleeping liner, also known as a sleep sack or sleep sheet, is highly recommended when staying at a hostel. They are very similar to a sleeping bag, but much much thinner. I would recommend a silk or microfiber blend as it won’t add too much weight to your bag. It comes in handy not only for sleeping in badly cleaned hostels, but also for those cheaper hostels that might not provide any sheets at all.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are ideal for keeping all of your belongings organised during your travels. This might not sound so important, but it will save you lots of time while you are trying to find something in your bag. It is also a great way of keeping your clean clothes separate from your dirty laundry until you have time to do some cleaning.

Travel Towel

Taking a travel towel is an essential if you are planning on staying in hostels, as many do not provide you with a towel. Don’t think that taking a regular full size towel with you will suffice, they will take too long to dry and will take up too much room in your already limited-for-space backpack. I would go for a microfiber travel towel which is designed to be super absorbent and fast drying.

Travel Adapter

If you are planning on visiting many different countries, the best adapter to purchase is an international adapter that will work anywhere in the world. No need to worry about running out of power and you can use it again and again for any trip. I would recommend a travel adapter that also acts as a converter to avoid blowing a fuse in your valuable electronics.

Flip Flops

These will definitely come in handy in a hostel situation, keeping your feet bacteria free when using the showers. Although most good hostels will be kept to a good clean standard, with so many people sharing the same showers you want to take a little extra caution. They are also ideal if you just want to slip something on to make a quick trip to the bathroom.

We hope you take on our advice and bring these hostel travel essentials along with you on your trip. Stay safe and enjoy the journey!

Must-see Galleries for Artist Inspiration

Must-see Galleries for Artist Inspiration

One of the best ways to find inspiration for your art and get new ideas is by looking at art others have produced. There are many, many art museums around the world, displaying work by thousands of artists over centuries.

Keen to find inspiration as well as to see famous and beautiful artworks, many artists plan a holiday specifically to see art galleries. Of course, to make it worth the journey you will probably want a large gallery with prestigious artworks. These galleries can be found in many major cities, and sometimes draw millions of visitors every year according to this article at the the Art Newspaper.

 

Before Travelling

If you are going to an art museum or gallery specifically to seek inspiration, you will probably want to stock up on art materials. It is likely you will find yourself keen to produce art while on your holiday, so you will likely want to ensure you have plenty of supplies to bring with you.

It is usually best to stock up on supplies before leaving, as it can be hard to find the best art materials and outlets in an unfamiliar place. It will often be best to stock up online from a company such as Jackson’s Art Supplies at www.jacksonsart.com. This will make it easier to browse a wide range of affordable products in your free time, then order them for delivery to your door leaving more time to plan the trip.

The Louvre, Paris

The Louvre is one of the most famous and popular art museums in the entire world. Temporary and permanent displays include a huge number of artworks from famous and talented artists. Artwork from throughout history is represented including the Mona Lisa, possibly the most famous painting of all time.

The Louvre has an unrivalled reputation in the world of art galleries. It is widely considered one of the greatest art museums in the world, and a true must-see for artists and art-lovers alike. It also has the benefit of being located in Paris, a city famous for its thriving art scene and packed with galleries large and small.

Tate Britain and Tate Modern, London

Although two galleries, both are part of the Tate network and are located close to one another. As such, it is without doubt worth visiting both and in many ways they work together, each covering different aspects of art. The Tate Modern is the more popular of the two, and is devoted to some of the most exciting works of modern art from around the world.

The Tate Britain, on the other hand, is devoted to a wider range of artworks from throughout history. Works of many great masters are represented in its displays. In particular, it is famous for including a number of works by Turner.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

America’s most-visited art museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has permanent and temporary collections which contain artworks from throughout history. Some of the works on permanent display are thousands of years old, created by great cultures of antiquity such as Ancient Egypt.

The museum is split across two locations. The majority of displays are found in the main building, which is one of the largest art museums in the world by area. There is also a smaller second building, which is primarily devoted to medieval artworks.

Vatican Museums, Vatican City

The Vatican Museums house the extensive collections of art and other artifacts which have come into the possession of the Catholic Church during its long history. The earliest parts of the museums were first founded in the early 16th Century, making them over 500 years old.

The 54 galleries contain an absolutely vast range of artworks stretching out over millennia. Ancient sculptures are represented as well as modern, largely religious-inspired works of art and pieces from all the centuries in between. Important renaissance works are particularly well-represented.

 

Image Attributed to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seeminglee/3990072885/

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