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ARUBA.
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Aruba is a Caribbean island 15 miles north of the coast of Venezuela, an autonomous dependency of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is 30 km (19.6 miles) long and 9 km (6 miles) across at its widest point giving it an area of approximately 70 mi (184 km). This flat island with no rivers is renowned for its white sand beaches and tropical climate moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean. The temperature is almost constant at about 27C (81F) and the yearly rainfall usually does not exceed 20 inches. Aruba lies outside the Caribbean hurricane belt.

Aruba is divided into the north-east and south-west coasts. The south-west has the white sand beaches, turquoise seas, and warm waters. The north-east coast, exposed to the Atlantic, has a few white sand beaches, cacti, rough seas with treacherous currents, and a rocky coastline. The time in Aruba is Atlantic Standard Time; it is the same as Eastern Daylight Savings Time all year round.

Climate

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The climate is tropical marine, with little seasonal temperature variation. Because of its location south in the Caribbean there is very strong sun, but a constant light breeze keeps the “feel-like” temperature pleasant. These persistent winds out of the east shape the island’s distinctive, lop-sided divi-divi trees. The trees have become a signature tree to Aruba’s landscape. The weather is almost always dry, with most rain showers coming at night and lasting only a little while. Temperatures in Aruba do not change dramatically. Between the months of January and March the temperatures stay around 76-85 degrees; this being their high season. However April and through December is considered off season and temperatures do not change much beyond 79 and 88 degrees.

Landscape

The island is flat with a few hills, arid with mostly desert vegetation and negligible natural resources other than white sandy beaches. Highest point: Mount Jamanota (188 m).

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History
Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. The island’s economy has been dominated by three main industries. A 19th century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. Aruba seceeded from the Netherlands Antilles (Bonaire and Curacao, the ABC-Islands) in 1986 and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba’s request in 1990.

Tourism is the mainstay of the small, open Aruban economy, with offshore banking and oil refining and storage also important. The rapid growth of the tourism sector over the last decade has resulted in a substantial expansion of other activities. Construction has boomed, with hotel capacity five times the 1985 level.

Symbolism

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Papiamento and the national flag, anthem, and coat of arms are the most important national symbols. They stress the inhabitants’ love for the island, the close connection to the Caribbean Sea, and the multi-cultural composition of the population. The national anthem is played and sung on many occasions. The Dutch flag functions as a symbol of the unity of Aruba, the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Antilles.

Etiquette

You should not wear beach attire anywhere but on the beaches or at the pool.
Make sure to properly greet someone.
Ask before photographing someone.
Men should wear dress shorts or slacks to dinner, no jeans allowed in most restaurants.

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Electricity

Officially 120V 60Hz, which is identical to the US and Canadian standard. Outlets are North American grounded outlets, identical to standard US and Canadian wall outlets. Occasionally non-grounded outlets may be found, which do not accept the third, round pin present on grounded plugs and require an adapter. Older North American outlets may not be polarized (with one slot wider than the other). Otherwise, adapters are available which accept a polarized plug and adapt it for use with a non-polarized outlet.

Food and Drink

Aruba’s tap water is produced at the largest and most modern purification plant in the Caribbean and is considered safe to drink. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are available at several large supermarkets and is generally considered safe to eat.

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Currency & Money

Aruba’s currency is the florin denoted by the letters “Awg.” but also widely known as “Afl.” (Aruban florin). The official rate at which banks accept U.S. dollar banknotes is Awg. 1.77 and checks at Awg. 1.78. The rate of exchange granted by shops and hotels ranges from Awg. 1.75 to Awg. 1.80 per U.S. dollar. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Aruba, and banks may exchange other foreign currency. Traveler’s checks are widely accepted and there is no charge for using them in hotels, restaurants and stores. Major credit cards are accepted at most establishments while personal checks are normally not accepted.

Cash may be obtained with MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards at credit card offices, banks, in some casinos and via Western Union. ATM cards and credit cards are accepted by ATMs of Aruba Bank, Banco di Caribe, RBTT Bank, and Caribbean Mercantile Bank. The card must have either a Cirrus or Visa Plus logo. ATM instructions are normally given in Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. Cash is normally dispensed in local currency.

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Safety

Aruba is generally a very safe place at any time of day or night but normal precautions as you would observe at home are recommended. However, it would probably be wise to stay away from the area surrounding the Valero refinery on the southeast part of the island at night. There is generally no reason for a tourist to go there at night anyway, so this likely will not be an issue. While rarely enforced, all drug abuse – including cannabis – is illegal.

Open link for discounted hotels on the island: http://discountedhotelss.toptraveleurope.net/Place/Aruba_1.htm

Open link for resorts on the Island: http://www.toptraveleurope.net/?page_id=11191

New Zealand.
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Around seven million years ago, the Aorangi Range was an island. As the mountains eroded, scree and gravel were washed down to the coast, where they formed a sedimentary layer. Over the past 120,000 years, the Putangirua Stream has exposed this ancient layer of gravel to the erosive forces of rain and floods. Some of the sediments stayed concreted together, while others washed away. The result is the Putangirua Pinnacles ‘an amazing collection of hoodoos’.

This outlandish place was used as a filming location for the ‘Paths of the Dead’ scene in the Return of the King, the third movie in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

To find the Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve, drive about 13 kilometres along Cape Palliser Road from the Lake Ferry turn-off. The reserve has a camping ground and a choice of walking tracks. Three of the walks lead to the pinnacles. you need to allow about three hours for the round trip.
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Rotorua.
In Rotorua you can enjoy M?ori cultural performances, taste traditional foods, and witness the geothermal wonders that first attracted people to this area.

Maori legend and history

New Zealand’s geothermal region that stretches through Rotorua has great cultural significance. Ngatoroirangi, a spiritual leader from Hawaiki was exploring the area on the Te Arawa canoe on Lake Taupo and decided to climb a mountain he saw after glancing upon its magnitude and splendour (Tongaririo and Mt Ruapehu).

He ordered that his fellow travellers did not eat while he was away so that the gods would give them strength whilst he and his slave Aruhoe made their journey. Upon their return they would enjoy a feast.

Ngatoroirangi and Aruhoe braved a dangerous journey through freezing conditions and the others did not think they would return and began to eat. Ngatoroirangi prayed and his sisters sent fire demons to warm their brother.

The fire demons Te Pupu and Te Hoata swam the Pacific Ocean and under the earth to Ngatoroirangi creating a fiery trail throughout the North Island as they travelled. They came to Ngatoroirangi’s aid and warmed him; sadly Aruhoe had perished.

The geothermal region of the North Island was created by the fire demons and now contributes to the geysers, steam vents and mud pools of Rotorua and the Te Arawa tribe is the regions guardian.

Rotorua’s name comes from the Maori words Roto (lake) and Rua (two).

Geothermal history

New Zealand’s location along the Pacific Ring of Fire has contributed to the geothermal activity. The North Island’s geothermal area is known as the “Taupo Volcanic Zone,” which was formed by the thousands of years of volcanic activity.

The area stretches from Mt Ruapehu to White Island and contains active volcanoes, geysers, mud pools and hot springs, all of which contribute to the unique aspects of Rotorua.

Rotorua’s unique geothermal properties can be experienced at Polynesian Spa when you take a dip in the mineral pools or enjoy a massage therapy treatment that utilises Rotorua mud and other local products.

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Mt Hikurangi, Gisborne.

The sacred mountain of Mount Hikurangi, located in the East Cape, is the first point in the world to catch the rays of the new day’s sun, receiving world prominence in the celebrations of the millennium. Nine massive statues carved by members of Maori tribe Ngati Porou represent important characters from Maori legend. Experience the sunrise of a lifetime and watch the new day before anyone else atop the summit of Mt Hikurangi.

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Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway

Discover mining relics, travel alongside the Ohinemuri River, and experience the large Karangahake Gorge.

Walking the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway is an excellent activity in you’re in the area or on your way to a Coromandel beach.

The track mirrors the bends of the Ohinemuri River with lots of signs of the old railway times. It eventually reaches Owharoa Falls and the entrance to the Victoria Battery. Spot old mining relics in several locations too.

To find out more, visit the DOC website (Department of Conservation).

Click the link for discounted hotels in these area. http://discountedhotelss.toptraveleurope.net/Place/New_Zealand.htm

Info and photos source: www.newzealand.com

 

Keukenhof Gardens Lisse, South Holland

Known as the Garden of Europe, Keukenhof (Dutch for “kitchen garden”) Approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted annually in the park, which covers an area of 79 acres. making it the world’s second largest flower garden. Featuring a variety of different gardens and garden styles.  The nature garden consists of a water garden where shrubs and perennials are combined with bulbous plants. The Historical garden is an enclosed garden where you can see many old types of bulbs. The Japanese country garden is a non-traditional garden in a natural environment. Then there is the English landscape garden featuring winding paths and unexpected see-through view points..

Keukenhof is situated on  hunting grounds dating back to the 15th Century, and was a source of herbs for Countess Jacqueline of Hainaut’s castle, which is where the name Keukenhof derives from as it served to provide herbs for the castle’s kitchen.

Established in 1949 by the mayor of Lisse. The idea was to present a flower exhibit where growers from all over Europe and the Netherlands could show off their hybrids and their skills to the public and to also help the Dutch export industry. The Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flowers.

Tulum. Mexico.

On this planet we call home there are so many places to visit, each of these have aspects and options that allow us to experience different types of trips and are filled with completely different experiences. There are some destinations that can offer us many types of experiences by simply travelling  just a few kilometers, and some without moving at all. A country that stands out from most others today is a destination  many people wish to go to, Mexico.

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The possibilities really are endless for your holidays in Mexico and allow you to enjoy the different experiences and pleasant activities without having to travel far to experience them. A trip here  allows you to combine tropical sea and adventure all in the same place.

Tulum Castle

The site of Tulum: Archaeology, Sea and Maya

Among the various settlements in the area there  is the Mayan site of Tulum, Offering a  perfect example of how an adventurous vacation exploring the ancient ruins of  the Mayan civilizationcan be combined with a  relaxing holiday on the warm, white sands of the Caribbean.

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From the cliffs overlooking the fine white sands fo the Caribbean Sea we find  the remains of the Castle, probably a lookout tower that belonged to the civilization of the Maya, given its proportions is shows there was some concern of external invasions and a need to protect their territory was quite obvious.

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The site is both interesting and beautiful at the same time from its archaeological landscapes, to its striking vistas. The beach is  just a few minutes from the city and is fully equipped, so you can enjoy a wide range of activities. In addition to the Castle, you can also visit several other historical sites and buildings in Tulum.

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Should you wish to visit the ruins of Tulum, it ´s best to be prepared to arrive early in the morning.

Access to the ruins is protected and it is also necessary to purchase a ticket before entry.  Entry price is very low ( just a couple of Euros, around 40 pesos). Access to the site is allowed only on foot, and on condition that vehicles are left in the parking  which is about a mile from the site area.Arriving early in the morning will mean you can miss the excessive heat of the afternoon along with the ever growing number of visitors.

Tulum photos byeloy rodiguezthomas michelmaria_globetrottersteve grundy

 

AFRICA.

 

Those who want to enjoy in the wilderness of Africa but not feel the dirt that is all around are meant to stay in this Hotel. The Hotel Marataba is located in South Africa in the National Park Marakele in the Limpopo region.

  • Marutaba is a complex with 12 tents made from wood, stone and fabric and the interior is completely decorated with African wild life, so it gives you the feeling that you are staying in some tribal village with the natives. Every tent has its own veranda where you can sit on the armchairs and enjoy the view of the rivers, valleys and mountains.
  • Also  guests can enjoy the pool which is in the garden, they can also dine in the garden if they don’t want to spend time in the restaurant.

Here are some photos of the resort, enjoy!

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