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Spain boasts long stretches of sandy beaches and once you leave the spurious glitz of the tourist resorts, you'll find the real Spain which shimmers to the strum of flamenco guitars.

Travel to Spain: Barcelona and Madrid

Travel to Spain: Barcelona and MadridSpain boasts long stretches of sandy beaches and once you leave the spurious glitz of the tourist resorts, you'll find the real Spain which shimmers to the strum of flamenco guitars.Accommodation: Luxury to budget staysThe internet can offer some of the best information on the cost, range and location of Spain hotels. Madrid: the city that loves artMadrid is not a sightseeing haven like Paris or Rome but there are a host of attractions like the Prado museum, Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace. Sit at one of the many cafes and observe the passing procession and the street artists.Transport: how to get there and aroundMadrids large airport, Barajas, is accessible by metro from the city. Once downtown you can walk around as the area is quite compact. Transport options include the bus, metro and taxi. WeatherAs a whole, Spanish weather is glorious from April to November. Madrids summer reaches 30 C where as the winter can drop to 0 C.Accommodation: Luxury to budget staysThe internet can offer some of the best information on the cost, range and location of hotels in Madrid.Attractions & EventsSpanish people love to celebrate, Festivals are part of their culture. You can enjoy the best of the festival fun during Semana Santa and also from Sept to Oct. *The popular Carnevale is held from February to March. *During May there are two main events to mark in your diary 2 May, The Fiesta de la Comunidad de Madrid and 15 May, Fiestas de San Isidro. *The bullfighting season starts in February, Madrid hosts the worlds largest bullfighting ring.Barcelona: vibrant metropolisAn increasingly popular destination, Barcelonas modern face is fashionable and vibrant but still holds the Spanish traditional spirit. Parts of the city are haunted by the spirit of the eccentric genius Gaudi who fantastic architecture dazzles the imagination. Transport: how to get there and aroundBarcelonas international airport is located only 7.5 miles out of town. It is also possible to travel internationally to Barcelona by train. If coming from Italy or the Balearic Island another options is the ferry.The town is pedestrian friendly which helps when exploring the sights on foot. If you want a faster way to get around, the metro is an easy option.WeatherSummer temperatures can reach a simmering 34 C. The most pleasant weather is between May and July. When October comes around it starts to cool off with a little rain.Accommodation: Luxury to budget staysThe internet can offer some of the best information on the cost, range and location of hotels in Barcelona. Attractions & EventsWith 15 official holiday days annually, Barcelona likes to celebrate. *There are 10 days of fancy dress and dancing parades during Carnaval in Feburary-March.*Catalunya's patron saint, Sant Jordi is celebrated on the 23rd April.*For dancing, music and theatre dont miss Festival del Grec, from June to August. *For something a little different, Festes de la Merce, has a swimming race and a fire race on the 24 September.

Safety On Public Transportation Overseas

Safety On Public Transportation Overseas

If a country has a pattern of tourists being targeted by criminals on public transport, that information is mentioned in the Country Specific Information in the section about crime. Taxis. Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings. Beware of unmarked cabs.Trains. Well-organized, systematic robbery of passengers on trains along popular tourists routes is a problem. It is more common at night and especially on overnight trains.If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform or station.Do not accept food or drink from strangers. Criminals have been known to drug food or drink offered to passengers. Criminals may also spray sleeping gas in train compartments. Where possible, lock your compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, take turns sleeping in shifts with your traveling companions. If that is not possible, stay awake. If you must sleep unprotected, tie down your luggage and secure your valuables to the extent possible. Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way. Extra police are often assigned to ride trains on routes where crime is a serious problem.Buses. The same type of criminal activity found on trains can be found on public buses on popular tourist routes. For example, tourists have been drugged and robbed while sleeping on buses or in bus stations. In some countries, whole busloads of passengers have been held up and robbed by gangs of bandits.Tuk-tuks. In Thailand, there are 3-wheeled vehicles called tuk-tuks mainly because of the sound they make. Most will hang around in tourist areas and offer to take you to massage parlors or for a "free" tour. They get a cut of anywhere they take you whether it be a jewelry store, bar, or massage parlor. Upcountry, they are mainly legitimate. The ones I am talking about are mainly in Bangkok.Baht Bus. Not really a bus, but a pick-up truck with seats in the back. They are covered and are used primarily in Pattaya, Thailand. They drive a circuitous route and charge foreigners about 10 Baht and local Thas 5 Baht for a ride. If you flag them down and ask to go to a specific location, then you may have to pay more because you are basically hiring them to be a taxi. Easiest is to just wave them over, get to where you are going, ring the buzzer, hop off and pay. Be careful of pickpockets. They may be in the form of little kids with an adult nearby or transvestites preying on drunken foreigners.If you encounter any problems with tuk-tuks or baht buses, contact the tourist police.Using public transportation can be an easy and cheap way to get around. Just be as careful as you would back home.

Geography of Morocco

Geography of Morocco

Morocco boasts a fantastic variation in terrain and vegetation, with fertile plains near its Atlantic coast, many dramatic mountains and The Sahara Desert. Location: Morocco is situated in northwest Africa and is separated from Spain at the northernmost tip by the narrow Straits of Gibraltar. Moroccos land borders are with Algeria and Mauritania. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the west and the Mediterranean to the north. Land mass: Approx. 446,000sq km Land use: arable land 21% permanent crops 1% permanent pastures 47% forests and woodland 20% other 11%MountainsThere are several fantastic mountain ranges in Morocco on which you can climb, hike, ski or ride mules. The amazing variety of foliage, natural water features and mountain peaks is captivating.The mountains are often heavily wooded, with firs and cedars on the higher slopes. In winter many of the mountains are covered in snow. Many mountain animals live here, including the unusual Atalas monkey, along with a large variety of migratory birds and birds of prey, such as eagles. There is a large bird reserve located where the Moulouya river flows into the Mediterranean sea.Amtoudi Peak: Located south of Agadir. You can either climb the 2030 cm narrow, rocky trail along the edge, or hire a mule to do the job for you. A Spectacular view awaits you at the top.Atlas Mountains: Filling most of the northwestern corner of Africa, the Atlas are divided into 5 regions stretching from Morocco, through northern Algeria and touching Tunisia. Morocco has the Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas. The High Atlas is the highest range, with Jabal Toubkal stretching to 4,165 metres. The Middle Atlas reaches 3,350 metres and the Anti Atlas does not reach higher than 2,531 metres, but it still has some very rugged landscape. At the edge of the Anti-Atlas in the extreme south, the scenery is consists of vast, eroded gorges which flow with the rivers into the dry, desolate wastes of the Sahara desert. Chefchaouen Mountains: Located in the north east, south of Tetouan. The Chefchaouen Mountains have two peaks, Jebel Meggou at 1,625 meters above sea level and Jebel Tisouka with its mosque on top at 2,050 meters.Oregano Mountains, Taliouine: Located near Tiznit, south of Agadir. These mountains are covered with oregano and transmit the scent throughout the valley. At the top of these mountains (1,500 meters above sea level) are two caves used by goats for shelter.Rif Mountains: Located on the northernmost area of Morocco on the north eastern limits of the Atalas mountains. The Rif mountains are made up of steep cliffs, near the coastline of Mediterranean Morocco where the terrain is rugged.Sarhro Mountains: Located south west of Marrakesh. They are a wonderful winter trekking destination as the desert cools and the High Atlas Mountains become covered with snow. It is a remote area adorned with volcanic monoliths, vegetated plateaux, canyons, tiny Berber villages and the nomadic Ait Atta people. The Sarho are arguably the most charming mountains in the whole of MoroccoSetti Fatma: Located at the end of the Ourika Valley in Marrakesh. It has seven beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking views and mountain long trails for hardened hikers.Tafraoute Mountains: Located south east of Agadir. The rocky, pink mountains here are the main attractions. A Belgian artist, Jean Verame, once painted some of the rocks blue in 1984, although these have now faded.Tan Tan Mountains: Located down south. Known for its very flat peak and hollowness in some parts of the mountain.RiversMorocco has the most extensive river system in North Africa. Its rivers generally flow northwest to the Atlantic or southeast towards the Sahara Desert. The main rivers of Morocco are the Sebou which runs into the Atlantic, and the Moulouya running into the Mediterranean. DesertsTo the south and east lies the Sahara Desert. The Sahara is the world's largest desert and in Arabic its name means "wilderness". The Sahara does not fit the traditional idea of an entirely flat and waterless area. There are streams in the hills and the desert oases support both human and animal life.Plants in the desert region survive with little water; some have very deep roots, others have small leaves or spines. Desert animals must also survive with little water and many, eg. the desert fox, remain hidden during the heat of the day others, such as gazelles, travel many miles in search of water.Fertile PlainsThese are to be found along the Atlantic coast, stretching to the Atlas Mountains and they are rich for agriculture, producing most of the countrys fruit and vegetables. It is well irrigated by the melt water from mountain snows from the Atlas. Typical plants are orange trees, date palms and cork oak trees.ClimateMorocco's climate varies widely: The north is Mediterranean and the south is subtropical while the sea and mountains help to maintain a pleasant climate. Winters are mild and the summers are hot and dry. Average daytime temperatures in winter range from 16 to 23 C and in summer, from 33 to 42 C. Like Spain, Morocco has approximately 330 days of sunshine per year.Mountain peaks are covered with snow for most of the year. Desert temperature variations between night and day are extreme and rainfall is low and unpredictable.The Environments FutureMoroccos natural environment is under pressure in a number of ways: The increasing number of tourists and the over exploitation of resources such as oil and phosphates could damage the ecosystem in the desert. Overgrazing and the spread of the desert may also threaten currently productive areas in the future.

Shopping Down Under

Shopping Down Under

The Australian shopping experience offers a vast range of both imported and locally-made goods.Local products include the inevitable toy koalas, kangaroos and wombats. But many local fashion designers are making names for themselves. In tune with the laid back 'Down Under' lifestyle, Aussie designs tend to be more casual and comfortable than those from Europe. Notable local brands include Sass and Bide, Carla Zampatti, Jag, and Adele Palmer.Locally-mined opals are one of the best buys in Australia but you really need to know what you're doing when shopping for any kind of gemstone.And of course if you're after serious Aboriginal art or just a boomerang or didgeridoo, Australia's the place to go.Shopping In SydneyDowntown Sydney is home to the standard retails outlets. For department stores, the two major names are David Jones and Myer. David Jones is the largest, selling goods ranging from the latest fashions to designer furniture. For more individual wares you have to head to Paddington, Glebe and Newtown, home to distinctive boutiques showcasing the threads of local designers, along with jumble shops and markets for penny-pinchers. Oxford Street is the domain of myriad fashionable clothing outlets featuring the creations of the city's most avant-garde designers. A must visit is the Queen Victoria Building which houses a delightful Victorian shopping arcade offering four levels of male and female fashion items in 200 boutiques.Shopping In MelbourneMelbourne is acknowledged to be Australia's shopping capital. It is home to grand fashion houses, department stores, fascinating souvenir shops, and glorious arcades.The arcades are one of Melbourne's treasures. The finest is the Block Arcade home to over 30 businesses such as the historic Hopetoun Tearooms. Another gem is the Royal Arcade and don't miss the massive Melbourne Central shopping complex between Latrobe and Lonsdale streets.Other Melbourne shopping attractions include South Yarra featuring Australian fashions, and Toorak Road for high-priced, brand names such as Gucci.For the more thrifty shopper, head to one of the thousands of retail shops and factory outlets. They're spread around Melbourne especially on Bridge Road and Swan Street. Here you can pick up designer clothes, perhaps last season's top picks, for just pennies on the dollar. Shopping In BrisbaneAustralia's third-largest city boasts a broad array of shopping outlets gracing its tropical landscape. Brisbane's shopping scene is centered on Queen Street Mall which houses around 500 retail outlets. Queensland's own fashion creations are on sale at the Brisbane Arcade. The nearby Broadway on the Mall and MacArthur Central offer a wide range of gifts and accessories and designer labels and Swiss watches.But for an authentic Brisbane shopping scene, you have to head to one of the city's many markets. Valley Markets is the place for alternative and retro fashion. It's open on weekends from 8 am to 4 pm On Friday nights, the South Bank Art and Craft Markets come to life with its stocks of handicrafts.

Lost Luggage: Tips To Carry On Feeling Good

There are a number of ways to keep lost luggage from ruining a trip. That's good news, considering that every year, more than 30 million pieces of luggage are lost by major airlines. Orbitz, Expedia and other travel experts say the key is to plan ahead and pack your carry-on accordingly. Try these tips to carry on feeling good: Medication Never pack medication in checked baggage. Instead, restock any daily medications you're taking, such as those for cholesterol, allergy and/or blood pressure, before leaving and pack them in your carry-on. It's also a good idea to bring more medication than you'll actually need while you're away-you never know when weather or other circumstances may force you to extend your traveling by a day or two. Comfort Use your carry-on bag to pack a variety of travel-size products. For example, Oil of Olay makes Daily Facials Express Wet Cloths that wipe away dirt and makeup and come in a small convenient pack. A travel-size tube of deodorant and a small bottle of Purell hand sanitizer are other essentials to help you freshen up, should you get separated from your luggage. Don't forget your mouth by bringing a toothbrush such as the Oral-B Pulsar. Its special technology will clean between teeth and along the gum line, leaving you with a cleaner-feeling mouth and fresh breath even if you're without your bags for hours on end. Clothing Bring a change of clothes in your carry-on. If you can't fit a whole outfit, at least bring some undergarments so you can feel fresh after a long trip. If you have a favorite body splash or cologne, you may want to bring that to help you feel fresh and relaxed. TAG makes a body spray just for men that is easy to carry and comes in four different scents.Valuables Lastly, never pack your passport, ID, tickets or any important documents in your checked luggage. If you don't know whether you should check a document, ask yourself if you'll need it within the first two days of reaching your destination. If you will, keep it in a carry-on. You should also carry your valuables with you-including electronics, jewelry and money. Smart Ways To Carry On: A well-stocked carry-on bag can help you deal with lost luggage.

Last Minute Travel

Theres no shortage of websites offering last minute travel deals. The idea behind these deals is that if a hotel is going to have a room empty or a flight is going to have an empty seat, its better for them to offer it to you at the last minute for a steep discount than it is to just let that spare capacity go to waste.The big contradiction of last minute travel, however, is that while the places with a lot of spare capacity get cheaper, the places with very little get much more expensive. Booking Christmas flights at the last minute, for example, will never get you a good deal, simply because so many people want those flights. Instead, you will probably end up paying much more than you would have if you had booked early.As last minute travel deals are for the least in-demand places, you can end up with places that no-one wanted for a reason. Some of the hotels on offer cant attract any customers because theyre truly dire. The flights on offer are often in the middle of the night, at times when its very difficult to even get to the airport without a car because the public transport links are closed. There are all sorts of gotchas waiting with cheap last minute travel.But it is cheap, and, as ever, that makes up for all sorts of sins. If youre willing to be flexible about when you fly and where you go, you can still get some very good deals youll probably end up with the all-round budget experience, but what do you expect? To avoid the very worst holidays, though, you should at least take the time to look up a review of the hotel youre going to stay in before you commit to booking it, no matter how good the deal seems, to make sure that youre not getting yourself into anything truly terrible.

Summary

Spain boasts long stretches of sandy beaches and once you leave the spurious glitz of the tourist resorts, you'll find the real Spain which shimmers to the strum of flamenco guitars.