An Island A Day

Stand by the shores of Casco Bay on the coast of Maine and you may expect to find ocean as far as the eye can see. Instead seemingly endless islands dot the seascape. Sometimes called the calendar islands, there is rumored to be an island in the bay for every day of the year.

Stretching from Cape Elizabeth to Cape Small these islands with their rocky shores and rustic way of life define the stereotypical New England coastline. Mostly uninhabited, they provide a serene escape from everyday life. Their natural beauty and their sheer numbers create a place one could visit every day and still never have completely explored. With an island for every day of the year there is more than enough shelter from the wind to allow everything from large fishing vessels to solo kayaks to roam the bay. While sandy beaches are few and far between here, the rock strewn shores and miles of nature trails can supply a continual source of enjoyment.

If you know where to look the Casco Bay islands will also provide a glimpse of Maine maritime history. Being located on the eastern most part of the country, these islands served their time during World War II as bases and look outs for German U-Boats. Great towers and forts still remain on Jewel Island, and while mostly converted to homes now, the military buildings on Great Diamond Island are hard to miss. During the war anti-submarine nets and mines were deployed at many harbor entrances and the islands took on a front line role. Even before WWII Casco Bay held military purposes. In 1858 Fort Georges was constructed and armed for the Civil War, Spanish American War, and was used to store submarine mines during WWI.

Many opportunities await those looking to enjoy the islands for their less historical characteristics. Chebeague is the largest of the Casco Bay islands, and one of the few with a year round population. Ferry service takes visitors from Portland or nearby Cousin’s Island to the perfect setting for an adventuresome hike or leisurely bike ride. You can finish the day off with a delicious dinner or nights rest at the breath taking Chebeague Inn. Great Diamond Island also offers an exceptional dining experience at the Diamond’s Edge restaurant in Diamond’s Cove. Peaks and Long islands both present dining opportunities to their guests and their proximity to Portland makes them popular tourist attractions.

If you are looking for a little less populated destination then you have literally hundreds of choices. You can relax on the beaches of Sand Island, watch the seals bask on the rocks of French Island, or setup a picturesque camping site on one of the Gosling islands. Many of these smaller islands will require you to provide your own transportation, but kayak, canoe, sail, and motor boat rentals all provide easy access.

Whether you are looking for fine dining, a historical stroll, or a relaxing day on the beach Casco Bay offers something for every visitor and an island for every day of the year.

Home Exchange

Have you ever wanted to travel to far away places and live like a native but somehow there never seems to be quite enough money to get you there?
Well have you ever thought of Home or House exchange holidays?
It’s the vacation with a difference, because you find the dream destination and all you have to book is your flight. You stay in the house exchange family house and usually have the use of their car also and they in turn stay in your home and have the use of your facilities.

you will not only find your dream destination in Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, European destinations such as France, Spain, England, Scotland, Bulgaria, Netherlands etc. but you can also book your flights, car hire and insurance and find information on guide books, maps and language courses – it’s a one stop shop.

Last year my partner and I tried a home exchange holiday in Denver Colorado and it was the best. We were living in a superb neighbourhood and enjoyed the community and the shopping. We were also able to afford to go on a weeks trip to Utah and Arizona which had we have had to pay for car hire and hotels for the whole duration of the holiday we would not have been able to afford. We are now planning our next home exchange holiday and hope to visit Australia.

There are lots of people who say “I don’t like the idea of strangers living in my house whilst I am not there”, but don’t forget you are living in their house and by the time the holiday date comes around you have e-mailed them and phoned them so they feel like friends. Perhaps you have a second vacation home which could work just as well for the exchange. If you have got a second vacation home and you rent it out for part of the year then you can advertise the house on free of charge.

Ten Reasons to Move to the Costa Brava

After France, Spain is Europe’s most popular holiday destination, and the apparent dominance of France is to a large extent due to visitors in transit elsewhere. In 1996 between 1.2 and 1.3 million European tourists visited Spain. It is therefore not surprising that many of them become interested in buying a home there. Spain’s property market generally has enjoyed strong growth, with the Costa Brava enjoying a particularly large rise in values. About 20% of foreign owners are more or less permanent residents of Spain, while the remaining 80% bought their property for either holidays or investment purposes.

The Costa Brava is particularly attractive because
· Summer heat is less intense than further south,
· Scenery is spectacular,
· There are beautiful well-preserved mediaeval towns like Pals and Peratallada everywhere,
· Catalonia is well run with good roads and railways
· The A7 motorway is never more than a few minutes drive and connects to the French network
· Barcelona is easily accessible
· Golf courses are numerous and of the highest standard all year round
· In winter, there is good skiing in the nearby Pyrenees
· There are cheap flights to Girona/Costa Brave airport and to Barcelona and Perpignan.
· Eating out is inexpensive and a real pleasure
· The cost of living generally is reasonable.
That is an impressive catalogue of benefits. Add that attractive property is still fairly freely available and competitively priced and you will quickly understand the popularity of the region.
Many different nationalities settle here, but unlike further south they are all intermingled, with no “English” estates or “German” estates. The whole atmosphere is much more cosmopolitan. That does not suit everybody.
Before buying anything, do visit the area in and out of season. Resorts that are a buzz in summer often die completely in the winter. To most Catalonians, the Costa Brava is where they go for their summer holidays; they don’t live there, and they don’t even visit at week-ends out of season. If you are buying just for summer rentals and/or your own summer holidays, that does not matter, but if you are thinking of permanent residence, it is a critical factor. Never assume that you may be able to rent your property in winter. It is most unlikely.

If you are thinking of semi-permanent or even permanent residence, you may be concerned that you will find it hard to make friends here, and therefore be somewhat isolated. This is generally not so. Most residents are retired or semi-retired and it is fairly easy to meet new people, particularly of course if you play golf. Incomers tend to be of a similar age and background, even if from different countries. They too want to make new friends.

This may be an advantage or a disadvantage! You will also suddenly find that you have many friends in England wanting to visit you. Some of them may be friends that you thought of only as acquaintances. It can also be difficult for visitors to understand that you are not there just to entertain them, but have your own life to lead as well.

All in all though, the Costa Brava is a terrific place to holiday or live as long as you have thought through your purchase correctly. Our experience comes as part of the package, and our job is to make sure that you make the right decision for you. This is not the Costa del Sol either in terms of weather or life style, but it is culturally rich, welcoming, and offers a great life to those that respond to what it offers.

Zambia… What an Amazing Country!

When you travel abroad, especially far away from home you
want to have peace of mind. The same applies if you’re on
an African safari. If your desire is to meet friendly, warm
people then travel to Africa’s peace haven, Zambia. In
Zambia you’ll find that which you most desire, the warm
African welcome.

Peace, stability and friendliness describe Zambia. It is a
country incredibly endowed with natural resources, the
heritage of a natural safari country. Just imagine these
amazing sites:

1 – The Victoria Falls, one of the world’s most spectacular
waterfalls, is considered the world’s largest curtain of
falling water. It measures 1701 metres wide and plunges
down to 111 metres. The torrent of water plunging over
a steep cliff creates a deafening roar and sends up billows
of spray that can be seen 30km (19 mi) away. Thus the
local people have called it Mosi-oa-Tunya, meaning
“the smoke that thunders.” And the view from Zambia
is awesome.

2. – The wild untamed Zambezi River. From its source at
Kalene Hills to its mouth at the Indian Ocean the Zambezi
measures a whopping 3,540 kilometres. And 2,572km is
in Zambia.

The river passes through changing scenery. The wild and
exciting Barotse Flood Plain the site of the colourful
Kuomboka ceremony by the Lozi people, the violent
torrent at the Victoria Falls and the 122m deep Batoka
Gorge the river cuts, the serene Lake Kariba behind the
hydroelectric dam. And this lake has a great history.
Finally the wide Lower Zambezi surrounded by wild game.

3 – Add to your travel itinerary the Nchanga Open Pit one of
the largest open cast mines in the world but the largest in
Africa. Operations started in 1957 and today it measures
4,700m long, 2,400m wide and bottoms up at 335m. Zambia’s
major economic activity has remained copper mining.

4 – Visit the 19 national parks and 34 game management areas.
All these constitute 30 percent of the 752614sq km of Zambia.
The management areas buffer the game parks and the parks are
strategically located throughout the country.

5 – The unbelievable yet fascinating wildlife in pristine
wilderness. The Zambian national parks are considered to
have the largest concentration of game in the world. The
variety of animal species is wide with over 202 mammals that
include the Big Five: lion, giraffe, leopard, rhino and
elephant.

Annually there is a wildebeest migration in the Liuwa Park.
Take a look and see the endemic red and black lechwe antelopes
in the Kafue Flats at Lochinvar, as well as the Busanga and
Bangweulu Plains. Birding is popular in all game parks but
Lochinvar is Zambia’s prime birds sanctuary. Meet the
crested cranes, saddle-bill storks, egrets, wood ibis, vultures
and the rare shoebill stork.

6 – Travel to Livingstone town near the majestic, awe-inspiring
Victoria Falls now accepted as the southern African Adventure
Centre. Here you may choose any adventure of your choice:
White water river-rafting, bungi jumping, river boarding, skiing,
fishing, abseiling, off high way 4×4 driving, elephant back
safari, river safari, micro-light and helicopter flights over the
Victoria Falls.

Livingstone is a town of three museums; one is Zambia’s prime
museum, another is a railway museum and then there is the
Victoria Falls field museum. Take a detour and visit a tribal
village. Choose your accommodation from the many
theme-designed hotels and lodges.

7 – The Zambian weather is mild and pleasant despite the
country being in the tropics. The high altitude at between 1200m
and 1500m above sea level ensures that. There are three distinct
seasons; the cool and dry season between April and August,
the dry and warm between September and November and the
warmer and wet season between December and March. However,
the most popular time to visit is during the cool and dry
winter season between April and August. These are cool
crisp days and cool nights!

Zambia is beckoning you! The pristine wilderness, the
profusion of wildlife including birds, the exquisite sunsets,
the changing landscapes and natural habitat and the warm
Zambian welcome of its friendly people. All these make
your travel to Zambia a pleasant destination in African
travel. It’s a safari visit you’ll treasure forever.

…And you’ll never forget to exclaim” what indeed an
amazing country”

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Enestle Zimba is geologist of over twenty years and manages Zambia African Safari (ZAS) part time. Enestle is dedicated to the promotion of safaris and tourism in Zambia and the conservation of wildlife and the environment.

A Dream Vacation

What is the meaning of a “dream vacation”? What is so magic about the word “vacation”? The word itself is so exciting and is looked forward with kid like anticipation all over! Kids and children like to take time away from school for change! Adults eagerly wait for the annual vacation! Take time off the routine office work. While Americans use the word “vacation”, rest use “holiday”! In the past, upper class families would move over to their summer houses for a small part of the year, while leaving the usual family home vacant at least for a while. In Toto, this precious time was used to refresh and replenish the spent energy; all for a change.

Understanding the objectives of a meaningful vacation or a holiday is the first step in having a “dream time”. A vacation is not meant to be a stressful and painful ordeal! Vacations are time to rejoice. Travel and be together. Planning well ahead means a well earned and happy vacation. Packing a well planned itinerary would probably make a big difference. Vacation time is meant for leaving behind all disappointments, sadness and failures of the year! Return back with full vigor and charged up spirits. Looking forward for a brand new year. Vacations are for every one! For adults and kids. Teens and elders.

Before taking any vacations, just ponder over the action plan. Discussing with family members could make one’s vacation worth remembering for many years. Just dot down what you would like to do during the vacation. What do the other family members want from this vacation? Do they need fun and relaxation? What about those kids? Arming them with constructive activities during vacation could make them more intelligent and enterprising. Try to consider the age and temperament of the children. As they tend to get tired easily, packing too many activities in a day can make them dull on the next day. Just give respect to your kid’s interests and hobbies. A pet loving kid may like to be among wild animals in zoos! While a studious and art inclined one may like museum or an art gallery. A sport loving teen may like to visit a sports arena like Super Bowl! Or a quiet one may just keep himself aloof and play video games on his PS2 or X Box.