Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Vacationing in Paris - Venture Beyond the Eiffel Tower"

Vacationing in Paris - Venture Beyond the Eiffel Tower

Paris is a Mecca for tourists who are drawn by many iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. Many travelers, however, locate lesser-known Parisian gems that give them a completely unique travel experience. From architectural feats to historical landmarks, this cosmopolitan capital remains one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world.

Paris is overflowing with history and continues to be influential in the spheres of culture, fashion, art, design and food. It is known as the City of Light with its motto proclaiming its staying power, "She is tossed by the waves but is not sunk." For those seeking a unique experience in the incredible city, exciting opportunities are around every corner. The Centre Culturel George Pompidou, for example, is not as well-known as other Parisian tourist destinations, but hosts millions of visitors each year. Opened in 1977 to house literature, art and cinema, this groundbreaking vision of architect Le Corbusier attracts artists and visitors alike.

Other attractions include La Defence, a business district stretching over 400 acres that is recognized for its stunning skyscrapers and underground circulation as well as the more than 60 modern art sculptures and monuments. The infamous Catacombs of Paris contain the bones of more than six million people, many of whom were believed to be killed during the French Revolution. Maximilien Robespierre and Jean-Paul Marat, influential figures in the Revolution, are believed to be buried there. Tourists from around the globe have visited the catacombs since 1867.

Another location rich in history is the Pere Lachaise Cemetery which has become a silent oasis in the midst of the many busy Paris neighborhoods. It offers rich vegetation comparable to any of the more well known parks in Paris. One can spend hours looking for tombs of famous icons buried there including French singer Edith Piaf, Irish writer Oscar Wilde and American rock legend Jim Morrison.

From the cemetery it is easy to stroll through the nearby city of Belleville. Literally translated into "beautiful town," this neighborhood is home to outdoor markets and large numbers of artists and musicians from around the world. The multicultural community creates a rich and unique environment unlike anything else in Paris. It is in this area that the least expensive city hotels will be found along with other exotic and interesting restaurants.

Though the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre are must-see attractions for a first-time Paris visitor, there are hundreds of galleries, restaurants, monuments and regions to explore. Rich in history, glitz and glamour, you'll be sure to find something new every time you embark on a Paris vacation.
Stephen Daniels is an acclaimed researcher. When visiting Paris, he recommends for vacation rentals in every part of the city. They offer both long and short-term rentals in studio and luxury apartments all over the city, at reasonable rates.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Getting Around San Francisco by Taxi"

Getting Around San Francisco by Taxi

Travel in and around the San Francisco Bay area is difficult for locals and can be a nightmare for travelers. Residents tend to drive fast, and traffic is extremely heavy; because of this, there is little patience for drivers that can't keep up or who obviously do not know where they are going. Taxis ease the stress that comes from researching the best route or trying to find parking relatively small city by the bay.

San Francisco is one of the most popular travel destinations in the U.S. boasting more than 16 million visitors annually. With mild weather for most of the year, and attractions that draw international recognition, these Greater Bay Area counties are packed with visitors on top of the nearly 7.4 million full-time residents.

A taxi service in the area will not only understand the best routes during specific times of the day, but will also provide information about historical landmarks, famous attractions, and can often stop for tourists to step out for a photo opportunity or to find a souvenir at a San Francisco hot spot. Rather than renting a car and driving yourself across the world famous Golden Gate Bridge, calling a local company to drive you around on your sightseeing trip will allow you to take photos, enjoy the scenery and relax. Many of these companies have large fleets that include taxis as well as limousines and vans for group tours.

Famous attractions such as Ghirardelli Square, Alcatraz Island, Alamo Square and Pier 39 are bustling year-round, and if you have a short trip to SF planned, an experienced taxi company can ensure you make it to each destination with plenty of time to explore each one.

Nearby cities have tourist attractions that are easily accessible with a car. Jack London Square in Oakland, California boasts a jazz club, kayak rentals, gourmet restaurants, sustainable gardens and open markets for all to enjoy. Many cab companies in the SF area are able to take you to and from each location, bringing you back to your hotel for the evening, or to the airport before your flight.

Though prices vary by company, the average trip from SFO to a downtown hotel costs approximately $40 and outside of the city, higher per mile charges will often be assessed. These costs, however, can be lower than a car rental plus parking costs, and allow for the convenience and relaxation one deserves on vacation.

With so many places to visit and things to do when visiting San Francisco and the surrounding cities, any traveler could be overwhelmed. With the help of local cab drivers, however, getting around San Francisco can be the adventure and pleasure every vacation should be.

Stephen Daniels is an acclaimed researcher. He recommends professional taxi services of . Based in Mountain View, they are a premier transportation service for the entire San Francisco area; offering special event packages and private city tours.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Carmel, CA Is Perfect For Beach Lovers"

Carmel, CA Is Perfect For Beach Lovers

A beach is one of nature's most special playgrounds, and the beaches of Carmel, California are among the most beautiful. From swimming, surfing, fishing and beach games to simply reading a novel and napping in the sun, there is something for every personality and every taste on the beaches in this area.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, usually called simply Carmel, is located in Monterey County, on the central coast of California. Bordered by the breathtaking waters of the Pacific Ocean, the town is located about 300 miles north of Los Angeles and 100 miles south of San Francisco. Once an artists' community in the early 20th century, this small town has blossomed into both a popular vacation spot and a place to call home for beach enthusiasts, golfers and those who simply enjoy the gorgeous scenery. The small town has a population of roughly 4,000 full-time residents.

Carmel provides a diverse living and vacationing experience. Not only is the scenery spectacular, it can also be enjoyed by Fido, so you don't have to leave your four-legged friend at home. Several local hotels, restaurants and shops are dog-friendly.

People from around the world appreciate the city for the attractions beyond the shore. Couples planning their wedding or honeymoon choose Carmel because of its gorgeous hotels, luxurious feel and gourmet restaurants. Golf aficionados are drawn to the area, as Pebble Beach - host of the 2010 U.S. Open, among other tournaments - is just a short drive away. The Monterey Symphony calls Carmel home, bringing world-class sounds to a small town. And the shopping district, bursting with chic boutiques and art galleries, draw collectors and shoppers alike.

Carmel has a rich history of environmentally friendly building standards, which shows the residents' appreciation for the natural beauty surrounding them. There has long been a law that any new buildings must not interfere with existing trees, and there is a mandate that properties without a minimum number of trees must plant them.

Of course, few towns exist that don't still have some quirky laws on the books. Carmel is no exception. For example, did you know that women are forbidden from wearing high heels unless they have obtained a permit? The local municipal building offers them at no charge, in the hopes of preventing pedestrians from suing if they happen to trip on uneven pavement. Another mandate once made it illegal for folks to eat ice cream on the streets; it was overturned by famous actor Clint Eastwood, who was the town's mayor from 1986-1988.

If you're contemplating a vacation or even a move to a beautiful beach town rich in history, culture, art and lore, consider Carmel. You might even see some famous people there dining alongside you or strolling the beaches.
Stephen Daniels is an acclaimed researcher. For a beach lover looking to buy a home in Carmel, he suggests . In the top one percent of Coldwell Banker agents worldwide, they are among the most experienced real estate teams on the Monterey Peninsula.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Come Experience All the Orlando Thrills with Universal Studios Vacation Packages"

Come Experience All the Orlando Thrills with Universal Studios Vacation Packages

Do you want to experience all the thrilling things Orlando can offer to you? You can have it all without paying expensive price with Universal Studios vacation packages. First of all, there are some places where the attractions and entertainment for all ages. Together with the attractions, Universal Studios is a film experience leading a lover of cinema. You can certainly get overwhelmed with all the activities on offer at Universal Studios via an excellent vacation package you can choose for your Orlando trip. And in addition to that, there is also some tamer relaxing experience you can have at Universal Studios perfect for those who are traveling with their children. Orlando is located in a popular nightlife Universal City Walk. Take a leisurely walk and it will reward you with delicious dining and relaxing musical entertainment.

But, if you are planning to have a comprehensive experience of all the things the Studio can offer to its guests, you can easily choose Universal Studios Vacation Packages with accommodation option at one of their on site resort. But if an on site accommodation does not interest you, the location of Orlando has many surrounding hotels, which are within walking distance of the park. They designed the area so it is best suited to visitors to have an easy feel of the entire layout of the land. And with a fantastic Universal Studios vacation package, you can certainly do more while enjoying all the thrilling rides this park can offer to you including the famous Incredible Hulk Coaster, Cat in the Hat, and other extreme rides that are perfectly designed to take away the breath of riders. And after experiencing all the adventure you can get from the Studio, you can have a superb dining experience at one of its on site restaurant the Hard Rock Café where you can always enjoy all American dishes while listening to different famous rock classics. They also offer souvenir T-shirts.

With Universal Studios vacation packages; you can surely experience all the Orlando thrills at one place. But, in order for you to fully enjoy the place, booking a reservation during the off season is one of the most practical things you can do. Not only will you be able to beat the crowd but you can also enjoy more privileges and add-ons you can include in your chosen Universal Studios vacation package. One of the best times to be at the Studios is between Thanksgiving and Labor Day. Visiting it in the middle of February right up to Spring Break is also an excellent schedule when crowds are rather thinner.

And, since planning most of the travel details for your Orlando vacation can be quite tiring, getting an all inclusive Universal Studios vacation package is your easy solution where you do not have to worry about anything just the money you need to pay for the travel package you have chosen. Not only are you going to enjoy great discounts, but you can also be sure that you will not miss any of the fun and thrilling experiences Orlando has to offer to you.


For more details about Universal Studios Vacation Packages & Universal Orlando Packages, please visit us online at .

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"The Many Moods of the Mighty Colorado"

The Many Moods of the Mighty Colorado

The Colorado River is one of the most majestic and dynamic bodies of water in the country. Each season brings new challenges and experiences to those on the water. Depending on the season, and climate conditions, the river can be extremely calm or quite swift. There is no better way to experience the water for the first time than with a charter rafting trip.

Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon can be unpredictable because it has more designated levels of rapids than any other river in the world. These runs are rated from one to ten in terms of difficulty. There are more than 100 rapids through the Grand Canyon alone, with 47 of them rated a five or higher. A level one is akin to a small riffle, while a ten is suggested for very experienced adventurers only. The intensity of the run varies with the water level, which, in turn, changes depending on the season. Colorado River rafting in calm, deeper water is a very different experience than rafting the same stretch in low water and tumultuous rapids.

Because of these changes, a professional guide or charter rafting company is an important component for an organized, stress-free trip. Providing safety tips, history of the landscape and nature, these companies also allow visitors to worry about having fun rather than if they have the proper gear for the changing moods of the river.

The Colorado is the main river of the American Southwest. It spans roughly 242,000 square miles of land, beginning as far north as Wyoming, and running through the states of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona before emptying into the Gulf of California. Adventurers can find breathtakingly beautiful stretches of nature, wildlife and ruins that can be appreciated by outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike at almost any point along the water.

The Canyon lands of Utah are a popular destination for charter rafting trips. High speed rafts can take you through the 100 mile Cataract Canyon in just two days. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, you can find floating tours with inflatable kayaks and paddleboats, whose trips begin in Moab, Utah along mild to medium rapids such as Onion Creek, Cloudburst, Ida Gulch, and White's Rapid. If you were to plan the trip during the mid to late summer, you would find class one rapids here. During the spring and early summer however, this same stretch would be more suitable for more experienced rafters.

Whether a first timer or an experienced trekker, the Colorado River offers excitement at every bend. The experienced guides of a charter rafting company will safely guide you and your travel partners through the excitement and challenges unique to this area.
Stephen Daniels is an acclaimed researcher for a variety of industries. To book a Grand Canyon river rafting adventure you will not soon forget, he highly recommends the family owned and operated .

Monday, June 21, 2010

"White Nights in St Petersburg - Cultural Events in Northern Venice"

What can be more romantic than white nights in Saint Petersburg? Beginning of summer is marked with this magnificent nature phenomenon. And even this is not the only attraction of the White Nights season. There are plenty of venues organized at this period to attract more tourists to the city at the end of spring ' beginning of summer. The number and level of cultural events exceed expectations of the most demanding visitors. Arts naturally flourish in atmosphere of happiness and celebration, giving enough inspiration for the rest of year.

White nights look like twilight at night time, which lasts for some weeks in June. Geographical location accounts for this phenomenon, because St Petersburg is located in the North of Russia. White nights existence proves that everything is devised by nature wisely. For instance, at such northern latitude vegetation grows slowly and round-the-clock light provides better conditions for growth, which is important for the area, where summer is short.

The twilight is deeper a bit from midnight until 2 a.m. when a new day begins at dawn. Something magical is always around this phenomenon. Everything looks so peaceful and tranquil that you can even hear your heartbeat. Those who are lost in everyday routine, discover new inspiration and joy of life in such mysterious place as St Petersburg.

The cultural life of the city is rich in venues during this period. The major film and drama festivals, concerts and entertainment events are held at White Nights. "Stars of the White Nights", the international music event, is one of the most grandiose in Russia. It is supported by the government and features performances of famous ballet and pop stars. Originally, the festival was presented by the Mariinsky theatre for citizens and guests of Saint Petersburg in 1993.

On the 27th of May those who are young at heart can join the celebration of school graduates - "Scarlet Sails", named after the book of Alexander Grin. People gather on the embankment of the Neva River to enjoy the Symphony Orchestra performance and to watch the incredible show with fireworks. It is a very spectacular fair, which is worth visiting Saint Petersburg just for the sake of it.

You can enjoy jazz performances with famous musicians from all over the world. It is included by Philharmonic Society of Jazz Music into the range of the most prestigious music events of the world. Annually it gathers amateurs of jazz in the Mikhailovsky Garden in addition to various concert halls. Such major music event leaves unforgettable impressions in the memory of every jazz lover.

The nightlife is at full swing at this period with over one million guests in the city. The popularity of White Nights results in hotels overbooking and high room rates. Therefore many tourists prefer to rent private apartments, which are more spacious and affordable. Most rental apartments are located in the very centre of the city close to the main hot spots. Convenience of staying in the centre of the city is obvious. You will not depend upon the moveable bridge, will feel free and enjoy fully your being in the centre of Russian cultural life.
My website about San Petersburgo helps visitors to Russia with travel information and accommodation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Visiting Santa Monica"

Santa Monica

Although Los Angeles is known for its freeways, traffic, and smog, there is a beautiful beach side city that borders the western edge of LA and is along the Pacific. Every year thousands of people visit Santa Monica. Santa Monica is spread out along the beach from Venice all the way up to the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of LA and is the location of dozens of high-rise luxury hotels, dining, retail and of course beautiful beaches, parks and sunshine. A stroll through Santa Monica will have any visitor feeling like they have left LA and are in the middle of a luxurious resort only found in Mexico or the Mediterranean. Santa Monica offers sights and attractions for the entire family.

The main area of interest when visiting Santa Monica is along the shoreline where Ocean Ave is the dominant thoroughfare for which shopping, dining and accommodations all extend off into separate streets. Tall and thick palm trees line the sidewalks for the entire length of Ocean Avenue. As Ocean Ave runs parallel to the beach, the bright blue of the Pacific Ocean is always visible from any points along the avenue. Ocean Ave straddles a cliff where below are the beaches and bike paths. Dozens of hotels line Ocean Avenue and face out on to the Ocean affording guests spectacular views. There are a broad range of choices in restaurants on Ocean Ave, from hole in the walls to five star, celebrity driven menus. Several major streets cross Ocean Avenue and take visitors into Los Angeles proper and offer additional opportunities in shopping and dining. These streets include Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd and Broadway.

The 3rd St. Promenade is only 2 blocks inland from the beaches and Ocean Avenue. In the last decade the Third Street Promenade has transformed itself into one of the biggest shopping destinations in Los Angeles. Extending almost half a mile from Wilshire Blvd down to Broadway, the Promenade is a street closed to cars and consists of a brick road, lined by palm trees, kiosks and dozens of high end stores from home furnishings to fashion. On the weekends many street performers come out and perform a variety acts from music to acrobatic stunts as crowds gather and watch. There are many dining opportunities on 3rd Street to chose including pizza and Chinese. There are two movie theaters and a major mall under construction slated to open in late 2010 at the termination point of the Promenade at Broadway. Several streets run parallel to Third Street including 4th Street and 2nd Street, each of these streets also provide a variety of shopping and dining opportunities as well.

Jutting out from the beaches of Santa Monica and into the Ocean is the Santa Monica Pier. With a rollercoaster, Ferris Wheel, stalls, aquarium and fishing, the average visitor can spend a day on the pier. The pier is friendly to families and allows for a variety of fun activities. The Santa Monica Pier celebrated its 100 birthday in 2009 and to commemorate the event built a new Ferris wheel; at the top of the Ferris Wheel visitors can get a 360 view of the shoreline, all of Santa Monica and down into Venice. At the base of the pier are many skate and bicycle rental kiosks where the active traveler can venture up and down the coast to Venice.

Santa Monica is a trip in itself and when visiting Los Angeles appropriate time should be made to spend a day or two in this beautiful neighborhood on the beach. In good traffic, Santa Monica is only less than thirty minutes from Hollywood and twenty from Beverly Hills.
For additional information on Santa Monica see .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Hollywood Studio Tours"

Seeing Hollywood Studios

Millions of people visit Hollywood annually in hopes of experiencing the film and television experience. Although Hollywood was once the epicenter of film and television production However today most major studios and television networks have relocated out of Hollywood to build large studio back lots where land was more accessible across all neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Gaining access to the studios for tours and as audience members of tv shows is relatively easy. Knowing where all the studios are and setting a game plan of what each studio produces is key. Just over the hill from Hollywood is the San Fernando Valley where Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, Disney Pictures, NBC and ABC all call home. In Hollywood proper, the last major studio to remain, Paramount Pictures, maintains a formidable presence on Melrose Avenue. Near LAX is the Sony Pictures lot that has a history dating back to the 1930s when owned by MGM. All of these studios are home to daily productions of movies, tv shows, commercials and game shows.

The most easily accessible studio is Universal. Less than 20 minutes from the heart of Hollywood in Studio City (San Fernando Valley), Universal is more than a studio but a complete theme park. Universal Studios most famous attraction is its tram tour. Trams depart every few minutes and take visitors on an extensive hour long tour of the studio backlot. Visitors will get to see an intimate look at various sound stages, cross rickety wooden bridges, witness great floods and see actual houses, city centers and old west towns that were used in hundreds of movies. Universal Studios prides itself on switching up the various attractions along the tram route. However one of the stops along the route that has been thrilling guests for decades is the Jaws experience. As the tram rides along a lake shoreline, a mechanical shark leaps out to the surprise of tram riders. In addition to the tram tour, Universal offers a whole park with roller coasters, shows and exhibits dedicated to the biggest movie franchises of all time.

Adjacent to Universal Pictures in Burbank is the Warner Brothers lot. SImilar to Universal Studios, Warner Brothers is a broad studio with dozens of sound stages and outdoor city sets. Warner Brothers offers a combined walking and cart tour of their backlot, however the tour is not as extensive as those offered by its neighbor Universal Studios. Warner Brothers tours are a combined golf cart and walking tour experience. The tour takes visitors through the various alley ways between the sound stages, facades and outdoor sets. The tour lasts a total of a little over 2 hours and includes a stop at the Warner Brothers museum where visitors can see up close and personal props and costumes used in some of the biggest movies ever made. For those looking to do a tour and be a part of a live studio audience, the Ellen Degeneres show films daily on the Warner Brothers lot. The price of the tour is $45.00 and runs Monday through Fridays.
There is an upgraded tour where for $195 guests are taken onto actual live movie sets as well as a lunch at the famous Warner Brothers commissary where visitors are guaranteed an up close and personal sighting (or even interaction) with one of their favorite movie stars.

Paramount Pictures is one of the last studios to maintain a presence in Hollywood and offers a combined walking and cart tour of the back lot. Paramount Pictures is an expansive studio lot that is located about 2 miles from the Hollywood and Highland Center. The Studio includes several sound stages and offices for producers and studio executives. Visitors looking to embrace and experience Hollywood's past will probably find the Paramount tour to be the highest value over Universal and Warner Brothers as the Paramount lot is far older and has been in continuous production of movies before both Warner Brothers and Universal. Thousands of movies, television shows and commercials have been filmed on the Paramount Pictures lot. In addition to the tour, visitors will be able to visit the Paramount Store where t-shirts, DVDS and memorabilia from their favorite movies of all time are for sale. The cost of the the Hollywood tour is $35.00 and guests need to be 12 and up.

Sony Pictures is located south of Los Angeles in the city of Culver City that is adjacent to LAX. This studio lot like all the rest in Los Angeles includes sprawling back lots, sound stages and history. The studio has had many names over its long history as its ownership has changed hands many times from MGM to Columbia Pictures. It was this studio lot that several classics including the Wizard of Oz were fjlmed. The studio offers a daily walking tour of its sound stages and facilities. The Sony Pictures lot is slightly smaller than the Paramount and Warner Brothers lot-therefore a cart is not utilized. It is the Sony Pictures lot that game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are taped.

Studios, movies, television and Hollywood are all synonymous with each other. A studio tour during a trip to Los Angeles can be exciting and educational and will leave visitors with a greater appreciation and understanding of how their favorite movies and television shows are made.
Overview of the movie studios of Hollywood and the various tours they offer. For information on studio tours in Hollywood, see

Friday, June 11, 2010

Finest hotels in Kauai, Hawaii

There are but the best and finest hotel in Kauai, Hawaii. Well, there should be. Hawaii is a paradise that has been touched by technology to bring out what is only the best. Spend your ultimate in Hawaiian vacations in the finest hotels in Kauai, Hawaii.

1. Aloha Beach Kauai Hotel. You can experience every worthy fun Hawaii has to offer at the Aloha Beach Kauai Hotel, located between the green east coast of Kauai and the consecrated Wailua River.

This Kauai beachfront resort is the ideal place for your full of memory Kauai wedding, honeymoon vacation or Kauai family travel. With the central location on the island, this Kauai accommodation in Hawaii offers effortless access to the Lihu'e airport, local shopping, Lydgate Beach Park, Kamalani Playground, and other popular attractions.

2. Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. Realize paradise at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. The abundant grounds and endless amenities of the Four-Diamond hotel in Kauai presents nearby countless options for each guest to build their own personalized retreat.

Spoil yourself in a kayak in the lagoons, revive body treatment at Anara Spa, or simply breathe in the uplifting ocean breezes. Compete and play championship tennis or golf, savor superior dining or have pleasure in an authentic Luau.

The numerous attractive setting of our Kauai resort hotel lets you easily discover the natural wonders of the Garden Isle, as well as the many quartered museums, shops and galleries. The exquisite experience awaits you at the captivating lavishness hotel in Kauai.

3. Sheraton Kauai Resort. The Sheraton Kauai Resort is the wonderful "Garden Isle" hotel for every ideal Hawaii vacation.

Perfectly situated on Kauai's famous Poipu Beach, you can take pleasure in a mass of activities from ocean sports to nearby championship golf, shopping, and children's programs.

4. Kauai Sands. Kauai Sands is an achievement and activity hotel for all guests. It is situated on a mile-long, not crowded, white sand beach on Kauai.

This spot is truly the South Pacific in legend, in song and in movies. You can found your relaxation and peace in this lone but adventurous spot in the Kauai sands.

5. Princeville Hotel. This Princeville hotel is located near Princeville Golf Course and Hanalei Bay. The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas is endowed with four outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant, a poolside bar, and a children's club.

Every guestroom has quality beds with pillow top mattresses, kitchens and lanais. Other services include full-sized refrigerators with freezers, stoves, and microwave ovens.
So, these are only examples. You can search the internet for more hotels in Kauai, Hawaii.
Jeff Schuman hopes you enjoyed this article on the finest hotels in Kauai. He invites you visit his website today to see the top things to in Hawaii to make your next vacation or trip to paradise a memorable one.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Tipping - How Much Is Too Much?"

Tipping - How Much Is Too Much?

Tipping while on a Peru vacation or while touring in Guatemala or any of the countries on the Latin American continent is the same minefield as the USA, Europe or Australia, but with a couple of added complications. It's very difficult to provide generic amounts for tipping in all Latin American countries due to the widely varying cost of living; conventions on tipping do of course also vary from North America to Europe and Australia. However, the following advice can provide a good starting point.

Get to know your new countryYou are no doubt excited about your destination already, and probably doing some research. Your guidebook will doubtless offer some suggestions for tip-ical situations (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist). I've included a few examples below for your reference, if your research doesn't bring any results.

Don't get mislead by the exchange rateWrite down a couple of conversions between currencies on a slip of paper which you can always quickly check when negotiating prices or trying to calculate the value of a tip. Try rounded amounts, like $1, $5, $10 and $20 to form a basis for rough calculations.

Use local currency when you canThe American dollar is accepted in many Latin countries (and in some like Ecuador, El Salvador and Panama is the only option), but avoid the temptation to only stick to what you know. Using foreign currency forces the service provider to change the currency, which is a hassle and you could end up getting stung on the exchange rate that they use anyway. Saying that however, the US dollar will be happily received, particularly for larger amounts.

Pay the person you want to tip directlyMake sure that your server, porter, guide or whoever is providing you the service gets the tip cash in hand, personally. If a number of people need to be tipped, it is a good idea to have a couple of seal-able envelopes with which you can give them a confidential, independent tip.

If your local research has been lacking in examples for amounts to tip, I can suggest the following as starting points:

Tip 1: Have to hand coins worth around 50 cents in local currency or a US$1 bill.

Tip 2: In restaurants, the tip is usually at least 10% of the total bill. Even when service charge is included, it is customary to round it up to the nearest full figure.

Tip 3: Local guides may be people relying on their tip as a significant proportion of their income, or they may be students working their way through college, retired people, or part-timers supplementing their income from other sources. Most people prefer to tip according to their level of satisfaction with the service. However the following rule of thumb may be helpful: if you are in a group of more than four people, accompanied on a half-day tour by an English-speaking guide, a tip in local currency to the value of a meal and a drink in that country is reasonable; if you are in a smaller group and have enjoyed a more personalized service, you might double this amount; double again for a full-day tour. Many clients who have been particularly satisfied give more.

Tip 4: Don't forget your driver who, in many cases, may have shown extreme skill on difficult roads. In general terms, he / she should be tipped a lower amount than the guide. Wages paid to people in employment of this type are normally very low - often since employers assume that gratuities will be given - but, refraining from giving a tip as a statement to discourage such practice will only serve to deprive the workers in question of an amount upon which they have normally come to rely.

Tip 5: Though it is not obligatory to tip taxi drivers, it is often common practice to round up the fare, and indeed, it is usual to agree rates in advance if the taxi does not have a meter or it is turned off.

Tip 6: If you are on a cruise, there is often a single 'kitty' tip for all. The convention is usually US$10 per person per day, although this is only a suggestion as we understand that tipping is a personal choice. You will be given specific guidance on board - some companies recommend US$15 per day per person for the crew, and the same again for your guides.

Tip 7: For the Inca Trail or other treks, there are quite specific conventions concerning tipping, which may well change during the life of this article, as access to the trail is to be severely restricted. Generally accepted rates are as follows:

If you are part of a group, each group member should allow:

- US$5 per person for the porters (ratio is 1 client: 1 porter)- US$10 per person to the cook- US$10 per person to the guide

However, if you are part of a very small group, you may consider increasing these amounts.
If you are on a privately escorted trip, you should allow:

- US$25 for the porters- US$10 for the cook- US$50 for the guide

This works out at a total of US$85, irrespective of whether you are alone, or with another person. Please note also that the weight a porter may carry of an individual client's personal belongings has been set at 8kg (in addition they will be carrying food, camping and cooking equipment to a maximum weight of 25kg). We would also encourage you to donate any unwanted outdoor clothes or sleeping bags to the porters. There may also be the added complication of assistant guides and cooks who should receive less than the principal guide or cook but more than the porters.

When dealing with gratuities on any Latin American trip whether to Mexico or Argentina, the following golden rules are helpful to keep in mind.

Only pay when you want toFor all this talk of giving the perfect gratuity, don't forget that nobody should expect a tip. Don't feel obliged to provide anything if you have not been satisfied with the service.

But, at the same time...

Be nice!Even if the service isn't great, or even good, consider leaving a tip. Customs and language barriers are just a few of the circumstances that may prevent you from seeing the situation in its entirety.
Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies Escaped to Peru and Escaped to Latin America and has lived in South America for over 10 years. Gary is passionate about life here, the people, customs and places. To learn more or to book your next adventure please visit

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"9 Things To Do In The Paradise Known As Maui, Hawaii"

9 Things To Do In The Paradise Known As Maui, Hawaii

So you are in Hawaii. Here are the best things to enjoy your stay in the paradise of Maui, Hawaii:

1. Enjoy a Luau. The Old Lahaina Luau is one of the luxury luaus in the world. They offer superb Hawaiian food and entertainment in an incomparable setting.

Pretty hotels stage beachside luaus featuring Hawaiian foods such as kalua pig, poi and haupia (coconut pudding) cooked in an earthen oven along with a pummel of more delicious delicacies. There are lots of Hawaiian music, fire dancing and hula.

2. Bike your heart along. Bikers will get thrill in Maui. Bikers can ride bicycle from the East End of the island in the Wailea Resort to Kapalua on stretched West End.

The ride is all along a stunning shoreline road. There are also guided downhill bicycle expedition down part of Haleakala, passing through the flower farms and some small towns.

3. Fine dining. Maui has attracted enthusiastic chefs who make national headlines using fresh local produce from Upcountry farmers.

There are lavish hotel dining rooms as well as lunch counters serving plate lunches. Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican and Italian are among the forte restaurants. Hawaii Regional Cuisine is the pride of the island.

4. Diving galore. Do you want to swim and dive? The finest dive spots are in Maui, Hawaii operated by reputable operators.

There are two marine maintained areas, Molokini at Wailea, an incompletely submerged volcanic crater offshore and the Honolua Bay on West Maui. Divers can get the most of the underwater world.

5. Hike with your family. Hike the rainforest muffled with the songs of birds that are only found here.

There are pursuit tracks to waterfalls with submerging pools for delightful swimming. There are also trails into the spectacular lunar landscape of Haleakala Crater. You can choose nature walks for every level of skill.

6. Shop like there is no tomorrow. The island is bountiful of galleries, international shops, designer boutiques and shopping malls. Many can take home Maui specialty items and products unique like jewelries and souvenir items.

7. Swim and Snorkel and be free like a fish. Explore more than 80 beaches on Maui and 120 miles of shoreline.

The beaches come in sands of green, gold, black, red and pure, to shimmering white. Come and grab a snorkel and mask and empathize with turtles and much variety of fish.

8. Dolphin and whale fun. Starting November until April, Maui welcomes the humpback whales - Hawaii's largest recurrent visitors.

They stay in Hawaii to mate and give birth. Maui's south and west coastlines provide abundant opportunities for watching this endangered species.

9. Non-stop sightseeing. A holiday nostalgic seeing plantation towns, explore the historic preservation district of Lahaina, stare at the biggest Buddha outside of Asia, pray at old Hawaiian churches, or visit a museum dedicated to Maui's whaling history.
You can never have enough things to do in Maui, Hawaii. Just bear with the ten and you will have the best stay ever.
Jeff Schuman hopes you enjoyed this article on 9 things to do in Maui, Hawaii. He invites you visit his website today to see the top things to in Hawaii to make your next vacation or trip to paradise a memorable one.