Hotel and Shopping Tips to Enhance your Luxury Travel Experience in Italy

Italy is consistently in the top five luxury travel destinations for American Express Vacation clients. Italy is full of history, beginning with the ancient Roman Empire, to the rise of the Vatican, to the Italian renaissance. Traveling to Italy requires certain tips to make your luxury travel vacation enjoyable, and hassle-free.

Hotel Tips

Though traveling to Italy is quite safe. However, it’s advisable and useful to gather some basic Italy travel tips. There are hundreds of small luxury hotels of the world and the cities of Italy have plenty to choose from. Some Italian hotels, and nearly all hotels in Rome, have at least one staff member who speaks English. Search out this person to ask for additional tips, such as great dining spots, local sights, public transportation and shopping areas. Staying in touch with family and friends can be expensive in Italy, especially if you call from your hotel. Keep in mind that American cell phones will not work without special international services or devices. And since hotels tend to overcharge for long-distance and international calls, it is best to make such calls from public phones, using international calling cards. Staying in a luxury hotel is quite fun, but if you have already been there and done that, it’s never too late to consider a luxury world cruise!

Shopping Tips

One big draw for Italian tourists on a luxury travel vacation is the shopping tour. Consider booking one of these guided tours, instead of charging off on your own. These shopping tours offer travelers a more comfortable way to shop ’til you drop. Most of these tours include transportation to several different shopping districts and stores. Your guide will speak both English and Italian, in order to mediate your shopping experience. Yes, your major credit cards, such as American Express, Visa and Master Card, will work. But keep in mind that most American credit cards will charge a hefty currency fee, and use the most unattractive exchange rates. The best way to be safe and save money would be to use a combination of Euro Travelers Checks, Euros in cash and a credit card. Pick Pocketing can be an unfortunate reality of modern travel, so spreading the type of money you carry is the best choice.

Most stores and shops in Italy have operating hours that can be considered different, at least in comparison to what is expected in the United States. Normally, most Italian shops are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Stores are usually closed between 1 and 3:30 p.m., to allow employees a chance to have a family lunch. Stores usually reopen around 3:30 or 4 p.m., and finally close around 7:30 to 8 p.m. In large cities and tourist areas, there is a tendency to stay open from 9.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., with possible variations from town to town. Keep in mind that shopping etiquette in Italy is much different than in the United States. When shopping for clothing, take note that many stores will not allow shoppers to try on shirts and blouses. Also, there is a size discrepancy, so make sure that an attendant measures your body before you purchase. It is also customary to tip attendants if they are personally assisting you with fittings and selection. Whether shopping or relaxing in a small luxury hotel, a customary tip can go a long way!

Your accommodations are often considered one of the most important parts of your luxury travel vacation, so use these tips to make the most of your upscale hotel stay. When you use these American Express Tour tips to experience the best of small luxury hotels and high class shopping, you can enjoy yourself with no strings attached!

Beautiful Barcelona – Easy Travel Guide

Beautiful city of Barcelona, capital of Catalonia (a Spain’s province), is situated on on the shore of the Mediterranean sea and bordered at either end by 2 river deltas. Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after its capital city Madrid. Barcelona has a population of 1.5 million, over 4 million including suburbs. The varied, eventful history of the city dates back 4,000 years to the first settlements by ancient farmers. Later it became a Roman colony, the Visigoth’s capital city, then it came under Moorish rule. It went through sieges, destructions and occupations, finally to become an autonomous democracy 1975. The city has always played an important role in political and cultural life of Spain and it is well reflected in the variety and quality of historical buildings, museums, many other tourist attractions. Today Barcelona is one of the most diverse european cities with unique culture and rich traditions. You can find here a formidable balance of the traditional things and the avant-garde. A cosmopolitan metropolis, Barcelona affords visitors a warm and sincere welcome, being aknowledged worldwide as one of the best tourist-friendly cities in Europe.Barcelona’s organisation of the 1992 Olympics provided regeneration of this dynamic city, gave a fresh start to its infrastructure development.

WHAT TO SEE AND WHERE:

POINTS OF INTEREST – La Rambla is a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard packed with buskers, living statues, mimes and itinerant salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewellery. Pavement cafes and stands selling craftwork, street performers surrounded by curious onlookers, a noisy bird market, Palau de la Virreina, a grand 18th-century rococo mansion, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the famous 19th-century opera house- these are all colourful parts of La Rambla’s mosaic. La Rambla ends at the lofty Monument a Colom (Monument to Columbus) and the harbour.

Barri Gotic – also known as Gothic Quarter, it is the old part of the city. Picasso lived and worked in Barri Gotic from 1895 to 1904 and Joan Miro was born and lived here during his youth. Gothic Quarter is situated on the right hand side of the La Rambla, it contains a concentration of medieval tall Gothic buildings (14-15th century) on narrow cobbled streets and now is home to much of the city’s nightlife.

La Sagrada Familia – La Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous and magnificent among Barcelona’s landmarks. The life’s work of Barcelona’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, the magnificent spires of the unfinished cathedral imprint themselves boldly against the sky with swelling outlines inspired by the holy mountain Montserrat. Above each facade there are four towers, 12 in total, which are dedicated to the Apostles. The tower in the center, the tallest of all at 170 m., is dedicated to Jesus Christ. Around these there are the towers of the four Evangelists, and the tower over the apse is dedicated to the Virgin. They are encrusted with a tangle of sculptures that seem to breathe life into the stone. Gaudi died in 1926 before his masterwork was completed, and since then, controversy has continually dogged the building program. Nevertheless, the southwestern (Passion) facade, is almost done, and the nave, begun in 1978, is progressing.

La Pedrera – Casa Mila (Mila House) is an apartment building, the last example of Gaudi’s civil architecture.It is one of his finest and most ambitious creations, extraordinarily innovative in its functional, constructive, and ornamental aspects. Visitors can tour the building and go up to the roof, where they can see spectacular views of Barcelona. One floor below the roof is a modest museum dedicated to Gaudi’s work.
Montjuic – the largest open space in the city, its main attractions are the Olympic installations, the Spanish Village and the hilltop fortress. Montjuic, the hill overlooking the city centre from the southwest, is home to some fine art galleries, leisure attractions, soothing parks and the main group of 1992 Olympic sites. Montjuic is covered in ornamental gardens with water features and is the most popular destination in Barcelona on Sundays.

Tibidabo – is the highest hill in the wooded range that forms the backdrop to Barcelona. It has amazing views of the whole of Barcelona, a stunning cathedral, and a family fun park Parc d’Atraccions with old-style rides offering breathtaking views. A glass lift at the park goes 115m (383 ft) up to a visitors’ observation area at Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower.

Modernisme – spectacular modernista architectural creations dotted around the city by famous Antoni Gaudi and his contemporaries.

Camp Nou – home of F.C. Barcelona, one of Europe’s leading soccer teams, with capacity of almost 100,000 spectators.

The Seu Cathedral – Built in medieval times on the site of a Roman temple, La Seu is one of the great Gothic buildings in Spain.

Parc de la Ciutadella – Barcelona’s favourite park and a Sunday afternoon rendezvous for families, friends and ducks

The Sardana – traditional Catalan dance, performed outside the cathedral and at national festivals, with everyone encouraged to join in.

MUSEUMS – The Barbier-Mueller Museum of Pre-Columbian Art -the only museum in Europe devoted exclusively to Pre-Columbian cultures. Housed in a gothic palace, its collection is one of the finest of its kind and gives visitors an insight into the rich world of the earliest cultures on the American continent. This tiny museum contains one hundred pieces, including wood and stone sculptures, ceramics, tapestries, jade, often found in international exhibitions and prestige publications. The exhibits represented the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, Chavin, Mochica and Inca civilisations.

Palau de la Musica Catalana – one of the world’s most extraordinary music halls, it is a Barcelona landmark. From its polychrome ceramic ticket windows on the Carrer de Sant Pere Mes Alt side to its overhead busts of Palestrina, Bach, Beethoven, and Wagner, the Palau is the flagship of Barcelona’s Moderniste architecture.

Museu Picasso – is Barcelona’s most visited museum. 3,500 exhibits make up the permanent collection. Picasso spent several years (1901-06) in Barcelona, and this collection, is particularly strong on his early work. Displays include childhood sketches, pictures from the beautiful Rose and Blue periods, and the famous 1950s Cubist variations on Velazquez’s Las Meninas (Ladies-in-Waiting).

Gaudi Casa-Museu – Gaudi lived in this pink, Alice-in-Wonderland house from 1906 to 1926, which now houses a museum of Gaudi-designed furniture, decorations, drawings, and portraits and busts of the architect.
Fundacio Miro – it was a gift from the famous artist Joan Miro to his native city. The museum opened in 1975, and now it is one of Barcelona’s most exciting showcases of contemporary art.

BEACHES – One of Barcelona’s greatest draws is undeniably its beautiful beaches. Beside world-famous Costa Brava and Costa Dorada which are within 1-hr drive time from Barcelona, there are also several nice beaches over 4 km long within the city boundaries, we will list just several of them here: Nova Icaria- Closest to the Olympic marina, always crowded, this wide swathe of rough golden sand is great for food goers. There are three perfect beach bars and two very popular restaurants on the promenade (Mango and Chiringuito de Moncho) and countless bars and restaurants are just a short stroll away. Bogatell- This beach is twice the length of adjoining Nova Icaria and fringed by a stretch of stone walkway perfect for jogging, roller blading and cycling. Three large informal restaurants on the promenade. Mar Bella (Metro Ciutadella Vila Olimpica, plus 20-minute walk)- Barcelona’s only naturist beach close to a peaceful park – good for a picnic or siesta under the trees. Barceloneta- wide and long, a traditional and popular stretch with locals, crowded, noisy and very jolly.

WHEN TO GO, WEATHER: The best times to visit Barcelona are late spring and early autumn, when the weather is still comfortably warm, around 21-25°C. Summers are usually hot and humid, with temperatures averaging +30 (+ 86 Fahrenheit). Especially avoid the “dead” month of August, when many shops, bars and restaurants close for the month as many local inhabitants head out of the city. Winters are cool with average daytime temperatures around +12 C (+59 Fahrenheit), occasionally rainy.

GETTING THERE AND AROUND: By a direct flight to Barcelona, or through Madrid or via another large European city from almost any major airports in the world. The highest fares are from May to September, the lowest in March-April, October-November and December to February (excluding Christmas and New Year when prices are hiked up). Note also that flying on weekends may increase your ticket cost. If traveling to Barcelona from within Europe you can also chose train, bus or car, though these take much longer than a plane and often work out no cheaper. Many Mediterranean cruises include Barcelona as a port of call.

ACCOMODATIONS: We can offer you a range of choices. You can choose vacation rentals in Barcelona starting from $ 125 USD for a double room in a 4-star apartment hotel. Or you can opt for hotels from $ 65 USD for a double room in a 3-star hotel. Accomodation prices do not change much throughout the year due to the steady all-season flow of visitors to this extremely popular tourist city and surrounding resorts.

DINING: Besides restaurants you can eat at bars where you would have a succession of tapas (small snacks- three or four chunks of fish, meat or vegetables, or salad, which traditionally used to be served up free with a drink) or raciones (larger ones). The bar option can be a lot more interesting, allowing you to do the rounds and sample local specialities. Generally, the average cost for a meal consisting of two dishes and dessert would come to about 25 Euros. Travellers on an extremely limited budget can do well for themselves by using the excellent markets, bakeries and delis and filling up on sandwiches and snacks. Decent restaurants and cafes are easily found all over the city, though you’ll probably do most of your eating where you do most of your sightseeing, in the old town, particularly around La Rambla and in the Barri Gotic. Look for the best and most authentic seafood restaurants in Barceloneta, a seaside neighbourhood. Gothic Quarter neighbourhood is home to some of the oldest and most traditional restaurants in the city. Gracia is a very popular area among young people during the weekend, it leads the way in terms of exotic restaurants (Lebanese, Egyptian, Thai etc.).

TRANSPORT: Barcelona has excellent transport system comprising the metro (subway), buses, trains and a network of funiculars and cable cars. You can find a link to transport maps at the end of our guide. On all the city’s public transport you can buy a single ticket every time you ride, but even over only a couple of days it’s cheaper to buy a targeta – a discount ticket strip. The T-10 targeta is valid for ten separate journeys on the metro, buses and trains. These tickets can be used by more than one person at a time. The metro is the quickest way of getting around Barcelona. For black-and-yellow taxis there is a minimum charge of $ 2 euro. You’ll obviously have a great deal more freedom if you rent a car . Major roads throughout the city are generally good, and traffic is generally well behaved, though Spain does have one of the highest incidences of traffic accidents in Europe. It also has some of the lowest fuel prices on the continent.

SHOPPING: Barcelona, one of the most stylish cities in Europe offers great shopping, from designer clothes and accessories to household items. You will find the city to be quite cheap for a lot of items, especially if you coincide with the annual sales ( rebaixes in Spanish) lasting from mid-January until the end of February, and throughout July and August. The best shopping areas in Barcelona are the old streets off the upper part of the Ramblas. Souvenirs include ceramics, which are widely sold in the streets around the cathedral; leather goods; city’s delicatessens, particularly cooked Catalan meats and sausages; a porron (the long-spouted glass drinking jar); CDs and tapes of Catalan rock and pop, sardana music, Spanish rock or flamenco. If you’re looking for original gift ideas, some of the best hunting can be found in the shops of any of the city’s museums, where you’ll find reasonably priced and unique examples of Catalan disseny (graphic), and other original items ranging from postcards to replica works of art.

Budget Euro Travel – What is Behind the Offer?

When you are planning a budget Euro trip to attractive countries of Europe like England and Paris, you would be conscious to know what there is in the offer and why is it being offered at low cost? The tourism authorities of these countries have made air fares, accommodation and transportation more affordable to promote the sites of their countries. The result is in the form of an increased number of visitors.

England is the first choice of most of the visitors when they plan a budget Euro Trip. And no one will like to miss the opportunity if offered a low budget visit to England with covering majority of tourist sites. It would be a great experience for the visitors if they could see the one of the tallest wheels of the world the “London Eye” with such a low budget Europe travel. The height of London eye is 135 meters above London and it is located along the river Thames. The London tower is another thing worth seeing when you visit England. With a history of 900 years has something special to be visited in the last 10 days of December for the celebrations of Christmas and New Year. A factor that you should not under estimate with your budget Euro travel is food price in London. You should have proper awareness about the food price in London otherwise you will mess-up your budget Euro travel.

Most of the people, who like to travel, would have dreams to visit Paris. It is possible for them to explore the beauty of Paris. Each and every corner is worth seeing in Paris but the Louvre is the best option to start with. Some of the world’s unique paintings and monuments are possessed by Louvre. It cannot be considered to be completed without visiting Notre Dame Cathedral. You cannot miss to talk about the great Eiffel tower which comes into your mind first as you think or talk about Paris.

Valencia is another famous tourists’ destination is worth seeing with budget Euro travel. Almost all types of fun activities are present in one of the most beautiful city of Spain. If you are planning a budget Euro travel, Valencia is one of the cities you should not miss to include in your visit schedule. There are a lot of specialists of handmade as well as materials of latest trends of fashion. Valencia is also famous for the verity of clothing it has got. The streets like Sorni and Amros are very famous for collection of jewelry. The jewelry items are available in different ranges so if your budget Euro trip is restricted in spending for accessories, you can easily find some stuff with very low price. The cultural monuments of Valencia are worth visiting, once you go to Valencia with budget Euro travel package.

Euro Travel

If you’re going to Europe, and planning on traveling, rather than staying in the one place for the duration of your vacation, and you don’t want to spend a fortune, there’s two or three alternative ways that you can travel throughout the continent.

The first option would be to take what you might call the “traditional” budget alternative, which would generally be backpacking and traveling by train. Nothing wrong with that at all, and by using a pass on the trains (known as a Eurailpass, and available in the USA from [http://www.raileurope.com/eurorail/index.htm]) you can certainly reduce your spending, whilst journeying widely throughout many countries.

There are, however, a couple of down sides to this traditional “budget” planning.

First, whilst it can often be exhilarating and exciting to meet and travel with strangers on a train, equally, sometimes, it’s nice to have your own space to enjoy the journey, on your own.

Secondly, by definition, trains can only take you as far as the railway station, and railway stations are not always placed where you want them to be placed. In other words, if you have definite “target” places that you want to see, then you might end up having to take a train, then a bus or taxi (for who knows what distances) before arriving at your destination. This shouldn’t be a problem if the place you so desperately want to visit is in the city, but what if it not?

And, of course, trains run to their timetable, not yours!

An alterative to trains are planes. Flying within Europe is now extremely cheap, and can be reasonably convenient, especially if you are visiting a country that it widely geared up for tourism.

For example, right now, it is possible to fly from the UK to beautiful Salzburg in Austria for GBP19 one way (approximately $35) or to Istanbul in Turkey for GBP31. See http://www.easyjet.com or http://www.ryanair.com for more information on availability of flights and fares.

Budget flying, however, carries with it many of the disadvantages of the trains – crammed into small seats next to someone you have never met before, the inevitable delays and so on.

So, here’s my suggestion. If you are lucky enough to be planning an extended European adventure, (at least one month) then make it a real adventure of which you are in total control.

Travel by car. Then, you can go exactly where you want, when you want, you can choose your own company, and, basically, you’re the boss. Maybe you are now thinking, nothing so revolutionary in that, car hire is not exactly a new idea, is it?

No,. it isn’t, but I’m not suggesting that you use Hertz, Avis or any of the other global car rental companies.

I’m suggesting that you do what I did some years ago for a three month tour of Europe.

BUY a car – a used model, something relatively cheap that you can then resell at a later date, before you fly home. Make sure that it’s a fairly basic model, something that is widely available throughout Europe (so that any required spare parts will be cheap and plentiful) and that it’s mechanically straightforward – no turbochargers or superchargers – so that if anything does go wrong with it on your travels, repairs will be simple (i.e. inexpensive) as well.

In my case, I traveled to Europe, bought an estate car (a station wagon) in France for $750, drove some 10,000kms throughout France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and so on, and sold it for $650 three months later. Apart from a couple of minor repairs (a new battery) and the cost of the gasoline, I lost exactly $100 on the deal.

In the meantime, I had gone exactly where I wanted, when I wanted and done exactly what I wanted to when I got there! Truly, the freedom of the open road!

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More Europe, Less Euros – Travelling on the Cheap

The first thing that should be on your mind when it comes to booking your holiday in Europe is arranging your flights. It may sound obvious, but the easiest way to save money on your flights is to book well in advance. According to many travel experts the best time to reserve your flights is eleven months in advance of your trip, due to the flights just being released. As a result, plenty of cheaper seats will be available. The opposite is also true, as booking at the last minute can result in substantial savings as airlines try to fill up their unsold seats.

Further savings can be made on your European sojourn by simply splitting the cost with your travelling companions. Depending on the accommodation you wish to stay in during your trip, you could save a considerable amount of money. Staying in youth hostels, which, despite the name, are no longer just the preserve of the youth, as many hostels now have family rooms, is always a financially sound option and if you do decide to split the cost, it could ending up costing you next to nothing. Investigate cheap hotel chains as well, as many are significantly cheaper than their Travelodge cousins in Britain. In France, for example, many budget hotels offer three person rooms for under £20 a night.

Keeping an eye on the exchange rates is also a useful idea. Fluctuations between the Pound and the Euro could be the difference between a leisurely, fun packed holiday and a minimalist, dull one. For example, Greece, a once cheap option for a family holiday, has become relatively expensive on the back of its entry to the European Union and its view of itself as an Olympic host and European football champion; while Italy on the other hand, remains very reasonable. With that in mind, do some research and find countries that offer competitive rates on accommodation, food and tourist attractions.

Depending on your destination, it’s worth remembering when planning your holiday that renting a car may be more convenient than relying on pubic transport. Cheap car hire in Spain and Tenerife, for example, is relatively easy to find and allows for far greater flexibility.

Quite possibly the best tip for saving money on your European holiday is to shop around for a low cost insurance policy. The travel agent – online or on the High Street – will attempt to sell you insurance but many travel experts recommend arranging your own instead, as it’s almost a guarantee that similar cover can be found for a lower price elsewhere. This rule also applies to European breakdown cover. While we’ve all heard of the RAC and AA, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s still just insurance and a number of companies will offer the same thing for less money.

When booking a European holiday on a budget, the easiest way to save money is simply to shop around for the best deals, with the internet being a godsend to travellers wishing to book their own trips. Research the countries you’re planning on visiting too and make yourself aware of any opportunities to save money on food or accommodation. By taking all of the above into account, your European trip is sure to be a great experience which won’t break the bank.

How To Save On Foreign Exchange Fee When Travelling Abroad

Whether for business or pleasure, traveling abroad is always a fun and exciting time. When you travel to a foreign country, you have to consider the currency exchange. The exchange rate is when one country’s currency is priced in another country’s currency. The exchange rate helps travelers purchase goods and services in other countries. The value of the dollar can often be perplexing when traveling abroad, especially when it comes to exchange fees and how the dollar converts to other foreign currencies. Below are a number of tips for exchanging currency when you travel:

1. Using your debit card at a foreign ATM machine can be quite expensive. As well, not all ATMs will be compatible with your card. There also tends to be high foreign-transaction fees so you should avoid using your debit card when traveling abroad. Traveler’s Checks are a good emergency alternative. Try to purchase traveler’s checks where you do not have to pay a fee. For instance, American Express checks can be cashed at an Amex office in another country.

2. Using a credit card or debit card at an International ATM in another country is a good choice. They tend to be one of the cheaper methods of exchanging money. You will however be charged foreign-transaction fees. If your bank has international ATMs, you will likely save a bit of money on the fees for your cash withdrawals. Before you travel, you should check with your bank to see if they have international ATMs or international bank partners. The costs of withdrawing from a foreign bank not associated with your bank can be quite high.

3. You can use your credit card when you make an expensive purchase. Most credit cards charge a foreign-transaction fee that can range from 1% to 3% when you make a purchase in another country. Check with your credit card to fins out their foreign transaction fees before you use the card. It is a cheap and safe way to make a purchase and will get the best possible rate.

Some banks do not charge anything extra for foreign purchases beyond the 1% that Visa and MasterCard charge. As well, some credit unions have low fees. The only major disadvantage, of using credit cards is if they are lost or stolen, there is the potential for misuse which could cost you a lot of money.

4. If you are considering using an exchange bureau, it is important to be aware that they normally charge very high exchange rate fees and high commissions. It is better to use a local bank to do your exchange. One disadvantage of carrying traveler’s checks is that often you have to convert them to cash at an exchange bureau which may not be available in all places.

When planning an international travel trip, you have to consider how you will pay for products and services. It is important that you do your research before you leave. Knowing where and how you will make your currency exchange will help make your travel abroad experience easier, cheaper, and more enjoyable.

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Planning Vacations With Free California Travel Guides

Pick up some free California travel guides today to start planning your vacation to the land of sun and fun. No matter what time of year it is, you will find something in California to entertain you. In the winter, California still boasts warm temperatures and year round theme parks for your entire family. In higher elevations, you can find great places for skiing, so plan to hit the slopes for your next holiday vacation.

In the summer, California is particularly dynamic, as you will see when you visit the multiple beaches and enjoy the perfect temperature. When you look at free California travel guides, one thing they might not mention is that you should plan ahead.

Especially during the summer, you might find many hotels are booked, especially those hotels that are around public attractions. Expect longer lines during these summer months, and know that you might have to go exploring to find a spot of beach to keep to yourself.

If you want to avoid the crowds, fall is a great time to do that, and you can explore the many wine regions. Many free California travel guides can point you to the best ones in the area you plan on visiting.

Look through your free California guides to find the places worth visiting. Of course, you have the main, well-known tourist attractions, like Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. You have most likely heard of the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, where you can be amazed at the immensity of the redwood trees. Take a trip to SeaWorld and Mission Bay, which are perfect locations for the entire family.

If you are looking for great family vacation spots, find free California travel guides that highlight these attractions. For example, there is the National Yo-Yo Museum, which is always a favorite with kids. There is Universal Studios, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom or Birch Aquarium, all of which are great locations to bring those with short attention spans. Free California travel guides should help you find places that interest you.

Alternatively, if you are traveling to California for a romantic getaway, one free of children, then choose free California travel guides that capitalize on that fact. Have a fun day out parasailing and walking around the heart of San Francisco before cozying up in one of the many romantic dining options available in California.

No matter which city you visit, you will find relaxation in the surrounding spas, culture in multiple museums and fun with all the different recreation places and parks. Using the various free California travel guides, you can set up the perfect vacation in no time, so get started and put it off no longer!

Traditional Home Furniture

The different elements of traditional furniture

When you first hear references to the Captain’s bed you immediately think of sailors that have been through the rough seas. However there are practical uses for this piece of furniture in the home. In fact it can help the home owner to increase the enjoyment that they get from their living spaces. All this is achieved with the use of minimalist principles and materials that are actually sustainable. It is a pity that not many people are completely used to the idea that this piece of furniture can make great furnishings for the home.

    1. The Modern bed is great for storage purposes. You have an item of furniture that is used for a variety of functions including storage. If you have security needs you can even put a lock onto the furniture to ensure that it is not easily accessible. The people that run with such a course of action can look for other discreet ways of securing the storage space. The needs of the individual customers will vary and therefore the solutions to their problems cannot be generic. However we can conclude that this piece of furniture is very useful when it comes to protecting your property in storage. The delicate items will not be shifting from side to side and that is a definite advantage.
    1. Depending on the brand that you buy the Usable bed can be very comfortable. You can use the mattresses and other cushions to ensure that you have a very comfortable stay. This will be nothing like the conditions that you can expect in a cramped ship. Instead you will have great flexibility in terms of the way that you can arrange your home yet at the same time you will be living in relative comfort. It is the thing that is making this piece of furniture very popular with the public. Even children might be able to use if you take the necessary safety precautions. In using the item you are really just getting the benefits that the manufacturers planned all along.
    2. You can use sustainable materials for the Captain’s bed. This means that you do not have to restrict yourself to wood. It is possible to look at the other alternatives and see whether they can do the job effectively. At the same time you will be playing your role in securing the environment. This is the dual role that you can look to in order to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefits from the purchases that you make for your home in terms of furniture.
  1. Space is utilized responsibly when you buy the Captain’s bed. If you live in the modern homes where the space that is available to you is at a premium, this can be a great solution to your problems. You will be able to fit in well and yet you will have the extra room to store your property as well. This is a complete furniture piece.

How to Pick Out Home Furniture for a Busy Lifestyle

Leading a busy lifestyle means having less time to enjoy the comforts of home. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon comfort altogether. In fact, when you’ve got no other choice but to be busy, your home furniture should help you get the most of what little time you have to feel comfortable.

Furniture that will fit a busy lifestyle should have certain qualities above other considerations. First, it has to be low maintenance. The less you have to do to keep it spic and span, the more time you’ll have to simply lay back and relax. Next, it will need to be space-efficient. After all, when you’re trying to get from point A to point B on a tight schedule, being forced to go through a long path or to squeeze between sofas and tables will definitely make your temper rise.

Here are some suggestions to create a comfortable, low-maintenance home for a busy bee:

The More Functions, The Better. Aside from the novelty factor, multi-functional furniture can help you reduce clutter and make it easier to move around. Some ideas you can consider include using a storage chest or ottoman for your coffee table in the living room, or choosing a sectional that extends into a chaise-like section instead of buying a separate chaise lounge to pair with your sofa.

Plan The Room To Make The Most Of The Furniture. Speaking of multi-functional home furniture, instead of buying a single desk for a single function, try to envision a space-efficient room and select furniture to follow that idea. This is especially important if your home tends to double as your second office. By being wise with how you arrange the room and position everything you need for certain tasks, you can spend less time searching for documents or designs and finish work faster.

Whether To Go Leather. When it comes to upholstery for your home furniture, investing in leather will definitely matter in short run. Cloth-upholstered sofas get dirty and dusty easily and will have you taking the covers to the washers every so often. Leather upholstery will also help greatly if you keep a pet at home. Fur is much easier to deal with and leather is more resistant to stains. Split liquids will often just need a wipe-down to keep clean.

On the other hand, leather tends to fade over time, especially when humidity varies. If you use an air-conditioner, but leave it off when you’re not in, then leather may not be the best option to you. Leather also scratches relatively easier and these may be harder to repair.

While all of these ideas will help you pick out the best home furniture to suit your lifestyle, remember that above all, you must prioritize comfort. This is most important for the places you plan to spend the most time in, such as your home office and your bed.

The Fast Food Industry – You Pay Them to Kill You, While Still Making Hefty Profits

The power of advertising has made the public rethink their unhealthy habits. After the September 11th terrorist attack, the marketing department of the Department of Health used this angle to decrease the desire in young adults to use drugs. We’ve all seen these public service announcements from time to time, and I have mentioned them previously: “My drug habit lead to the ruination of lives far from where I live, I am directly helping organized crime… In other words, my drug use has financed murder…”

This chapter is using another angle to get the right point across. “Today, I built up the plaques in my arteries, I increased my triglyceride level by 30%.” I guess this is a blunt way to make a point. By eating fast food, you literally finance your death.

While several worthwhile books have been written in recent years about the broader social implications of a meat-centered diet (Erik Marcus’ “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating”, Gail Eisnitz’s “Slaughterhouse”, and Howard Lyman’s “Mad Cowboy”, to name a few), none has been greeted more warmly by the mainstream press than Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nation”. They all make one point in common: the dangers of eating fast food. In spite of this bad press, we haven’t seen many fast food corporate giants go under. Actually, some are doing very well, indeed. How can we comprehend the fact that despite everything that health magazines, newspapers, and television documentaries say about the dangers in the food we eat, such as hamburgers, fries, soft drinks, etc., people still find themselves filling the seats of these restaurants without thinking about the consequences of their actions? We are talking about your health here. A well-researched and trenchant expose of the fast food industry has caused some people to sit up, take notice, and perhaps even rethink their unhealthy eating habits.

It is obvious that a book talking about the causes of obesity talks about the fast food industry as well. Eric Schlosser’s book “Fast Food Nation” has enabled many to understand how fast food is being processed. Today McDonald’s is the country’s largest purchaser of beef, pork, and potatoes, and it’s the second biggest purchaser of chicken – which should seem obvious to us all. With their restaurants in every corner of America and beyond, millions of tons of meat and poultry are being processed in the slaughterhouses that supply meat to McDonald’s.

They can only offer their promotions, 2 burgers for $2.22, if their expenses are low. The point here is to make you realize that each time you enter their restaurants, order food, and pay the cashier to eat their food, you are signing your death warrant. Some statistics are truly staggering: In the early 1970’s, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they shelled out more than $110 billion, more than they spent on higher education, computers, or new cars. McDonald’s operates about 28,000 restaurants worldwide and opens 2,000 more every year. That equals six McDonald’s/day. If they follow the same trend for the next decade, they might reach the 50,000 franchises mark. In real life, opening more franchises will mostly send more Americans to their doctors or the emergency room to get diagnosed with several diseases, including high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. There is at least one positive outlook of these corporate giants. They keep our labor force working by creating many jobs in America and abroad. The 3.5 million fast food workers are by far the largest group of minimum-wage workers in the world; not too bad for the fast food industry.

However, creating jobs should not be used as an excuse, though. They are still convincing people to eat their food by using the media and other sources of advertising. Fast food chains collectively spend about $3 billion annually on television advertising, most of it directed at children-talk about creative marketing. By reaching out to kids, they (the fast food giants) assure themselves a future. What is the point in reaching the older crowd since they are already hooked to their food? They need to reach a virgin market. Yep, ladies and gentlemen, they are targeting your kids. While you are trying your best to teach your kids to adopt a healthy lifestyle by making their lunch everyday, making them participate in after school sports activities, encouraging them to avoid unhealthy temptation, the industry is spending several millions dollars to brainwash them about what food to eat. I guess you agree with me that these are counter-productive measures. Can this ever end? I don’t think so. Unless Congress confronts one of the underlying factors in health costs for the country, we might never see any progress.

There is some good news, though. We’ve seen some changes in this industry in the past few years. McDonald’s and other fast food chains have tried to implement some healthy items in their menus. Americans are finally seeing some choices offered to them: salad in a cup accompanied by low fat salad dressings is one positive result. Although, most consumers are still not ordering these healthier items, they do have the choice anytime they desire.

Diners can now order salads, baked potatoes and grilled chicken sandwiches, some of which weren’t on restaurants’ original menus. Jeff Bonasia, Burger King’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, says customer surveys revealed that 41 percent of Burger King’s “heavy users”, the beef eaters, wanted a vegetarian burger on their menu.

“We’re not necessarily going out to appeal to people who are strict vegans or vegetarians,” Mr. Bonasia says. “It’s meant to provide more choice and variety for the people who love burgers.” When the BK Veggie Burger idea came up, Burger King officials envisioned it as anchoring a nutritious meal combination, possibly paired with a side salad and bottled water. That didn’t register with customers, Mr. Bonasia says. “Their reaction was, ‘I’ll get the Veggie Burger, and I’ll have my fries’,” he says. Most fast-food chains supply customers with the nutritional content of their menu items, either through Web postings or handout guides.

Fast-food restaurants may have consistent menus, but items typically can be customized on request. Often, Ms. Gensler, a Chevy Chase Maryland Dietician, says, “the delivery time of such meals is the same as with a standard order”. “Today’s consumers appreciate a flexible, heart-friendly menu,” says Wendy’s company spokesman Bob Bertini. The burger chain just went nationwide with four new entree salads after successfully test-marketing them last year in five cities. The Garden Sensations salad lineup offers “ingredients that consumers are not used to seeing [in a fast food restaurant],” Mr. Bertini says, from Mandarin Chicken Salad to crispy rice noodles and roasted almonds. Condiments are included separately.

“The whole approach now is not as much on strict diet regimes … it’s more now about balance and choices,” he says.

“For too many, those choices involve super-, mega- or ultra-sizing the meal in question,” says Keith Ayoob, a registered dietitian in New York and spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. Super-sized meals also contain excess fat, salt, and sugar, the three main items people crave. The chains (fast foods giants, that is) “know exactly what they’re doing,” Mr. Ayoob says.
Too much fast food leaves diners susceptible to weight gain and all its risks, including diabetes and high blood pressure, not to mention the strain on the heart. Moreover, fast food tends to offer small amounts of fruits, vegetables and fiber, three components that counteract obesity and other health woes. Mr. Ayoob says: “Americans won’t stop eating fast food, but if they eat it wisely, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that”. “Go eat it, but eat smart,” he says. “Find the food there you like the most and have it in a more modest portion. As long as your weight is being maintained and you eat a low-fat, balanced diet,” he says, “An occasional journey into a fast-food restaurant should present no problem.