Friday, 8 November 2013

Awesome Vacation Ideas

A World Of Vacation Ideas!

With so many amazing destinations on this incredible planet of ours, it can be difficult deciding where to spend your next vacation. Will you laze on a beach somewhere? Take a cruise? Base it around an activity like skiing? Or golf? Yes but where? Travel organisations around the globe have wised up to our more discerning requirements for travel stimulation and packages abound devoted to a miasma of micro interests.

It would be difficult for me to drill down to just one favourite destination. I have had some awesome travel experiences in many different places. Carnevale in Venice in a freezing cold February, a ski holiday in Czechoslovakia (before the division) when there was no snow resulted in a trip into Prague on the day that the Czech people reclaimed their democracy. But I have a very soft spot for France and Provence in particular 

This image of the old University mill on the Fyris River in central Uppsala, Sweden is used under a Creative Commons licence from Wikimedia Commons

Stonehenge Over-rated? Grand Canyon Over-crowded?

Alternative Attractions That Are Off The Beaten Tourist Trail

 Off the Tourist Trail: 1,000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives
If you are looking for alternatives to the well-known and often over-rated "tourist traps" this book takes 1000 popular sites and offers alternatives based on popular themes such as Ancient & Historical Sights; Festivals & Parties; Great Journeys; Natural Wonders; Beaches; Sports & Activities; Art & Culture; and Cities. Accompanied by beautiful photography this beautiful book will have your bucket list filled in no time

Travel News

The latest news from the world of travel. 


Take An Invigorating Short Break Or A Life-Changing Excursion 


Deciding Where To Go

What kind of traveller are you? You will more than likely fall into one of the following travel categories. Cheap As Chips. The budget traveller is no longer an over-looked consumer in the travel market. Marketers now recognise their value as a significant component of a country's export economy. They choose to stay in down market digs but they spend a far greater time in a country than the majority of package tourists thereby contributing more to the local economy. This beautiful photo of sunrise in Fiji can be purchased as a poster from Zazzle

Two Weeks A Year. Whether due to demands of your job, time restrictions around family commitments or financial limitations, having only a limited time in which to take a vacation means careful consideration of how to make the most of that time. You may enjoy the simple life and return each year to a favourite camp-site or tourist park where you can be sure of seeing the same familiar faces. Many will have pored over tourist brochures for the past year and be ready to hop on a plane to an anticipated resort with nothing to do except get to meals on time. Two weeks is a perfect time to take that adventure holiday you've always wanted to - skiing in Japan, golf in Florida, scuba diving in The Seychelles. Or just packing the car and taking a road trip. Options are endless even if time isn't.

The Once In A Lifetime Grand Trip. Whether it's a gap year, after retirement or somewhere in between this is probably the most exciting of all travel experiences. It's never a single experience but a whole lot of experiences strung together like pearls on a beautiful necklace. From planning to budgeting, deciding on destinations, style of accommodation and how to get around the opportunities for disasters are numerous. This type of trip can be minutely organised by a tour operator or taken as a freestyle DIY excursion. Lay It On Me And Spare No Expense. For the fortunate few for whom money is no object, there are some extraordinary travel experiences to be had. The creativity surrounding the luxury end of the travel market is expanding constantly with new opportunities being added all the time.

170+ tours in Italy on Isango


KimGiancaterino -

"Just finding time to travel is hard any more. My husband and I sneak in a few road trips, but someday we hope to take a proper vacation again."

Awesome Travel Tshirts 

Let You Boast About Your Travels 

Understand And Respect Local Etiquette

Getting Along With The Natives

To really make the most of your travel experience you should try and get involved with the local people. Don't just be a sightseer. Immerse yourself in the culture as well. There's nothing more rewarding than an invitation to share a meal in a family home. But things can go bad very quickly if a gesture or comment is regarded as an insult.
Shoot The Breeze With An Aussie
What do Australians find funny? And what is off limits in the joke department? Why getting an insult from an Aussie is a sign of acceptance.
Modesty And Gender interaction In Egypt
It is very important to understand how to dress and interact with members of both the same and opposite sex when in Egypt. Know when to cover your head or remove your shoes, when to shake hands or offer a kiss.
Alcohol And Social Customs In The United Arab Emirates
The UAE is a Muslim country but on the whole, very tolerant recognising the wants and needs of its tourists as well as its large expat community. There are still, however, a number of rules and customs which should be observed to avoid mishap while travelling in this part of the world.


Deciding Where To Go

Summer Palace, Beijing, China
If you are a budget traveller then typically you will have a swathe of destinations in mind. There are ways to narrow down your list by ascertaining what kind of traveller you are. What are your interests? What kind of food do you love? Or hate? You'd probably want to think twice about going to India if you're not a fan of curries. Consider countries where your funds will go farthest. Think about the exchange rate from your local currency. There may be times when it is better to avoid a region if the exchange rate is particularly poor. How well do you cope in stressful situations? How would you manage if faced with a dangerous situation? Find out the political situation before you go. How well do you know the language and if not, how well can you manage with a phrase book? Will you manage in a situation where there is no possibility of language translation?

Book 4000+ Tours and Activities

Image credit: this is one of my own photos from my trip to China

Interesting And Unusual

If You're Looking For Something A Little Out Of The Ordinary

Just because a location is well travelled shouldn't put it on the crossed off list but there are certainly some destinations which have appeal simply because of their uniqueness. Take for example, Jellyfish Lake in Palau, one of the truly unique and amazing wonders of the world and swimming with its harmless inhabitants is an awesome experience. Palau is an island nation located in the Western Pacific surrounded by The Phillipines to its west, Guam to its North East, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Find out more about Jellyfish Lake

Find out more about Palau

Interesting and Unusual

Brand New Travel Experience For The More Discerning Adventure Traveller

Due to open in early 2010, this Fijian resort offers a whole new travel experience for elite travellers. Located 40 feet underwater, the world's first seafloor resort offers guests incredible luxury combined with an amazing water world experience. As if the accommodation experience isn't enough, there is also a range of unique activites to choose from such as pilotting a personal Triton submarine, or kitting out in a hi-tech diving helmet with surface supplied air and walk along the lagoon floor. Posidon Underwater Resorts will begin taking reservations on September 15.

Find out more about Poseidon Underwater Resorts

Get Ready To Trek

Grab Some Great Travel Gear And Get Packing 

When choosing luggage consider the type of vacation you will most likely use it for as well as how you will get around. These two-piece sets consist of a medium size suitcase and a carry-on bag.

Top Travel Tips

Useful Sites For Travel Advice

The Times: 50 Essential Travel Tips
This is a must read. Broken down into the sub-categories of Planning, Booking, Flying, Lodging, Cruising and On The Ground. Topics include negotiating discounts on room rates, how to make your flight more comfortable and checking for bedbugs.
How-To Handbook
More great tips - research is everything!

Funding Your Trip

Ideas For Working Overseas

There are many ways to earn money as you travel. It pays to check on the rules concerning working in the country you are visiting before you go. Visit or contact the consulate and find out about work visas. Many working abroad programs will arrange the visa for you once you have been accepted into their program. If you have teaching, nursing or secretarial skills your qualifications will be well regarded in many countries. One idea is to teach English as a foreign language.

In Praise Of The City Of Angels

One Of My Favourite Places

Los Angeles is a city that often divides people - they either love it or hate it. I have to admit I rather like L.A. The first time I was there I had broken my ankle two days before arriving, on the road trip down from San Francisco. It was the seventies and I fell of my platform shoes. What struck me was the friendliness of everyone we encountered. I was seventeen and travelling with my parents on our first trip overseas. We visited all the usual haunts, Disneyland, Universal Studios. one of Los Angeles's hospitals to get my cast put on, you know, standard tourist places. I met my childhood penpal for the first time. The second time I visited was with my husband on his first visit to the US. We flew in from London and this time, twenty years after my first trip Disneyland had much better attractions. No that's not the only reason to go to Los Angeles but you have to admit, if you are going to go it's hard to ignore going. My penfriend was now married as well and living in a granny flat in her parents backyard with her husband and his two kids. Not only did they welcome us into their home, they gave us the use of their car as well. Los Angeles is not a city of beauty but it is a city of colour. The best way to learn her secrets is with the help of a local and if you can do that you will discover a warm and friendly city, not the one most visitors first encounter.

Browse more than 4000 tours and activities

RubyHRose - "I love California, and L.A. does have some awesome tourist attractions, but it isn't my favorite Cali destination. I keep going back there to find one, I love them all so far. Mount Shasta I love in the Summer, Malibu in the Spring and Lake Tahoe in the Winter. Thanks, this (page) got me planning a sunny Cali vacation again."

Follow Great Vacation Destinations for More Great Ideas

The Quintessential Eurail Pass

A Great Way To Get Around Europe

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Top 10 Ways With Cheese

Top 10 Ways With Cheese

A Celebration Of Cheese

I confess right here, right now, a love of cheese. There are very few cheeses on this earth that I do not like although I also confess that there are still many that I have not tried. For a food which is really so simple it is simply astounding the myriad varieties which can be had. From the mild smooth fromage frais and ricotta to the aged cheddar, from the salty fetta to the blue rocquefort, stilton or gorgonzola, cheese has as many uses as it has styles. Celebrate my love of cheese with me and maybe add a few of your own.

Image Credit

French Cheese

French Cheese

1. Swiss Fondue

An Elegant Dish With Humble Origins

Sweet Quark and Cream Fondue with Fruit and Muesli BallsNow more commonly associated with seventies dinner parties, the origins of the swiss fondue are those of meagre frugality. With nothing remaining in the pantry by winter's end but dry bread and hard cheese, the ingenuity of the peasant farmers of the Neuchatel region of Switzerland produced a tasty meal to see them out until the weather warmed and food production could again begin.

The fondue shown in the poster above uses Sweet Quark and Cream for a sweet version of this popular meal.

Sweet Quark and Cream Fondue with Fruit and Muesli Balls
Jörn Rynio
Buy This at

These Fondue Sets Will Make Fondue Nights A Breeze

2. Ploughman's Lunch

A Very English Pub Lunch

Apparently the origins of this now well-known British meal are a little dubious with some evidence that the term may have been invented in the early sixties by the English Country Cheese Council as a marketing ploy to sell British cheese in pubs. A simple meal, with some variations, the essential ingredients of a "Ploughmans" are bread, a good strong cheese such as cheddar or stilton, and pickles (relish). Also common are sliced ham, pickled onions, dill cucumbers or gherkins, sliced apple and hard-boiled egg.

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from H is for Home

Serve It Beautifully

When it comes to serving beautiful cheese, a simple platter will do. But it helps to have something large with good knives that will do the job with ease.

3. Welsh Rarebit

For Lovers Of Cheese On Toast

"Rarebit" or "Rabbit"? Although it seems that the term rarebit has become entrenched in our language, there is still argument over the correct name of this dish. According to Wikipedia "The first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, but the origin of the term is unknown. It may be an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford butcher's meat, and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat, in Wales the poor man's meat was cheese."

According to the American satirist Ambrose Bierce, the continued use of rarebit was an attempt to rationalize the absence of rabbit, writing in his 1911 Devil's Dictionary: "RAREBIT n. A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit. To whom it may be solemnly explained that the comestible known as toad in the hole is really not a toad, and that ris de veau à la financière is not the smile of a calf prepared after the recipe of a she-banker." Whatever your preference, the dish itself consists of cheddar cheese mixed with beer or ale, a little mustard, a splash of Worcestershire sauce and seasonings, mixed together, spread on toast then grilled until melted and golden.

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from the hanner

4. Greek Salad

The purists will argue about the authenticity of the addition of certain ingredients. An authentic Greek salad will not have lemon or pepper or red pepper and definitely no fancy peeling of the cucumber. But I believe that part of the wonder and beauty of living in Australia is the manner in which we have embraced the food-styles of other lands and in particular those of the mediterranean nations.

We may have made a few changes here and there but that is not a bad thing. The essential ingredients of a good greek salad are plump ripe tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, black olives, oregano, salt, olive oil and wonderful fetta cheese. This wonderful video from SBS Television's series "Food Safari" shows George Calombaris making a wonderful greek salad with the addition of dill and crusty croutons.

 Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from grooble

Cheese & Wine

5. Spanakopita

Greek Spinach & Cheese Pie

Spinach and cheese just seem to go together and the greeks have perfected the combination with Spanakopita. A simple pie of filo pastry filled with spinach and a mixture of fetta, ricotta and a small amount of strong hard cheese such as pecorino, the spanakopita can be baked as a single large dish cut into diamond shaped portions or made into individual triangles.

Need a recipe for Spanakopita? This one is good.


Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from anthimeria


Greek Cookbooks

Anyone who has spent anytime with Greek people will know how wonderful their cooking is. Here is a selection of fabulous Greek cookbooks so you can immerse yourself in these culinary delights at home.

6. Palak Panir

Another Perfect Blend Of Spinach And Cheese

This spicy vegetarian dish is an Indian classic. Women in India make their own fresh cheese. Paneer is now more widely available or you can substitute Ricotta. For the recipe see this article: asafoetida

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from di.wineanddine


The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

 - Jon Hammond

7. Spätzle

Schwabische Pasta

One of the wonderful people we met during our travels in the late eighties was a student from Heidelberg. We met while backpacking in India and he extended an invitation to us to look him up when we reached Germany. When we called he invited us over for a traditional Schwabische meal. We had no idea what to expect. When we arrived at his student digs we found him preparing home cooked german pasta layered with finely chopped ham and grated cheese. We had it served with salad and fresh bread while watching a slide-show of our days together in India. It was one of those memorable meals.

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from jasonlam

Making Spätzle

German Mac & Cheese

Spätzle Press & Skimmer

Makes making spätzle so much easier

8. Risotto a la Milanese

Smooth Creamy Rice With Parmesan Cheese

For a while there I didn't make risotto. When the kids were young it just seemed too difficult to stand over the stove continually adding stock and stirring to get that perfect blend of creamy and al dente. But when you have a beautiful Osso Bucco looking for the perfect accompaniment there really is only one option.

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from Straußer

Curious About a Particular Cheese?

A Set Of Stock Pots For The Serious Cook

Heuck 36003 4 Piece Stainless Steel Stock Pot Set
This set has pots of different sizes so you don't always have drag out your big pot for a smaller job.

The Heuck 4 piece nested stainless steel stockpot set is sure to bring an array of possibilities to your everyday cooking. The versatility is endless when using the 8, 12, 16, and 20 quart set. Each pot has a luminous mirrored exterior with riveted handles and a polished stainless steel lid. Whether it be “low and slow” cooking your favorite soups and stews, or boiling pasta and seafood, you have all the options right at hand. For best results while cooking, temperatures of medium or lower on a cook top are recommended unless boiling water. To extend the life of this set hand washing is recommended.

9. Cheesecake

Baked or Set - Either Way It's Delicious

A velvety smooth set cheesecake. A tangy baked cheesecake. My kids love it. Every time we make it, it's a hit. At the supermarket the other day we picked up a free cookbook of Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipes just for buying three Philly items. This was no flimsy pamphlet. This was a substantial book. How could we resist an offer like that? It's not all cheesecakes. There are other yummy recipes as well. But I think I know which pages we will be zeroing in on. At least at first anyway.

This photo of a Toblerone cheesecake is my own. It was made with the help of my teenage son.

10. Roquefort Cheese & Crackers

I know that there are wonderful recipes for Roquefort. But as far as I am concerned there is really only one way to eat this most sensational of French cheeses and that is as it comes with a very plain cracker so that just the wonderful flavour of the Roquefort is all that you taste as you bite into it. For a while there Roquefort was banned from Australia by whichever government authority it is that makes decisions on imported foodstuffs. The reason, apparently, was that it is made from unpasteurised milk. Having travelled through much of Europe and delighted in the markets and the variety of produce available and comparing it to some of the sterile offerings in our more modern, "enlightened" supermarkets, I was simply astounded and annoyed by this ridiculous decision. It turns out that it took a vigorous campaign over a number of years by some very devoted cheese afficionados to have that decision reversed and now we can once more enjoy this wonderful delicacy.

Photo used under a Creative Commons licence from Nicolas DARQUÉ

A Piece of Blue Cheese

One Month In Italy