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Monthly Archives: November 2016

The City of Havana

There is simply no other place like Havana. Its brilliant Spanish colonial buildings with the ruins of ancient beautiful architecture are just one part of it. But if buildings and architecture don’t fascinate you, sheer exuberance and liveliness of the local people dancing to their unique flavour of music will. If you love music, you’ll love Havana. If you love old buildings, you’ll love Havana, if you love old cars, you will absolutely love Havana. But even if none of the above particularly interests you, you’ll still love Havana. The people, the way of life, the weather – everything about that city is so inviting it truly is a dream destination.

Comparing Havana to Other Cities

In my time I travelled all over the world and visited dozens of large cities, nowhere I’ve ever been lives up to Havana.

Safe: Havana is an incredibly safe city. Young women can roam the streets at night in total safety. It’s actually the safest capital city I have ever visited. Common sense states that you should always be aware of your surroundings, but Havana really does set the standard. No other city in the world compares.

The City that doesn’t sleep: it’s a bit of a cliche but the city of Havana really doesn’t sleep. The character of Havana hasn’t changed in many years.

Beautiful beaches: the beaches of Havana really are something to behold. Playa del Este is easily right up there as the most beautiful tropical paradise on the planet.

Photography: no matter where you visit or where you turn there is always something fantastic to take photographs of. Whether it’s an old lady uncharacteristically smoking an enormous Cuban cigar, the wild locals partying hard, you really should take double the memory sticks you usually take abroad. You will definitely run out before the vacation ends.

The rich cultural life: you’ll be blown away by the amazingly diverse range of attractions. These range from galleries, theatres, cinemas, ballets and museums.

Amazingly rich history: Havana is widely recognized as one of the planets richest and most visually breathtaking cities also.

Boulder, Colorado

This city of about 93,000 people has consistently been recognized by national publications as one of the great cities in the country.

Praise for Boulder includes commendations for being green, smart, sporty, brainy, and artsy. It was voted the “Most Educated City in America” by Forbes Magazine, placed number 5 on Country Home Magazine’s list of America’s “Top 25 Green Cities,” and Bicycling Magazine choose Boulder as one of its top 5 cities in its list of the “Best Cities for Cycling.”

Baby boomers will be interested to know that Boulder was also declared one of the “Best Places to Retire” by US News and World Report, and was #5 on Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of the “Best Cities for Empty-nesters.”

Boulder has also been voted by Seventeen Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Cities for Teens”—how’s that for diverse?

Although located only twenty-five miles from Denver, Boulder does not live in the shadow of its big sister. The city has developed a character all of its own. After all, where else can you join a group of cyclists and cruise around town every Thursday, wishing residents a “Happy Thursday”? As many as 500 people take part in the Boulder Cruiser Ride during the warm summer months, with many choosing to dress up and decorate their bikes for the occasion!

Boulder is a great area for cyclists, and has been labeled a “Platinum-Level Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists. A forward-thinking state, Boulder hosted its first annual “Bike to Work Day” in 1977, and is believed to be among the first cities to do this.

Among its educational opportunities, the University of Colorado at Boulder is the largest university in the state. Boulder also has a large selection of private schools, charter schools, colleges and science institutes, and also features the only accredited Buddhist-inspired university in the USA (Naropa University).

There are weekly farmer’s markets held in the summer, and shoppers enjoy strolling around the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall, which spans four blocks.

If all that doesn’t tempt you, its pleasant climate will. Boulder has mild, dry summers, comfortable winters (the surrounding mountains shield the city from many bad storms), and more than 300 days of sunshine per year. And with the glorious mountain ranges to explore, Boulder has one of the most inviting landscapes in the country.

Lake Travis, Austin Texas

Whenever there is a conversation about Austin it invariably turns to the subject of the Lakes. One of these lakes is Lake Travis. Although Lake Travis is part of the Austin lifestyle, it consists of many communities that provides a unique lifestyle and affordability that appeals too many. Lake Travis is surrounded by the Texas Hill Country, which provides some of the most spectacular views available anywhere. There are a countless number of home sites, neighborhoods and world famous restaurants tucked away in the hillsides that take advantage of these million dollar views. There are also home sites and restaurants situated on the waterfront which provides accessibility by road or by boat. Recreation abounds on “The Lake”. Fishing and boating are chief pastimes for many people in and around the Lakes and Austin. But there are also communities that offer world class golf, private boat docks, waterfront parks and numerous other amenities. Lake Travis has numerous county parks, many that offer camping and /or public boat docks, fishing and swimming areas, hiking trails and other recreational activities. Living or owning property on “The Lake “attracts individuals and families alike. Almost everyone can find something that would appeal to their taste and budget. When looking for homes or land around Lake Travis, it is divided primarily into two areas, Lake North and Lake South.

Lago Vista, Jonestown, Volente, Point Venture, and numerous other communities and private home sites make up the area of Lake Travis North. Home prices vary greatly here, providing everyone a chance to live near the lake. There are home owners associations for many of the neighborhoods and most of the students attend Lago Vista or Leander ISD. Commuting to downtown Austin is a scenic 45 minutes away, approximately and Liberty Hill, Leander and Cedar Park are closer still. Commuting is not for everyone, but living on the lake makes the drive worthwhile to many.

The Lake South area of Lake Travis is made up of some of the most prestigious and desired planned residential communities, including Lakeway, Bee Cave, Volente,Spicewood and other small areas. Lakeway offers residents local shopping, grocery stores, restaurants and other amenities such as a tennis club, marina, swim center and the Lakeway Resort and Spa. Other rapidly expanding areas included in the Lake South area includes but, is not limited to, are Bee Cave, Spicewood and Briarcliff. Bee Cave now boast of the Hill Country Galleria Center. This unique center consists of over one million square feet (1,000,000) of retail, municipal and residential spaces. Across Hwy, 71 from the Hill Country Galleria is the Shops at the Galleria offering another 500,000 sq. ft of retail shops. A short few years ago, the only shopping here were a couple of convenience stores. Highway 71 has always been a major artery that leads to “The Lake” and the homes and communities all along the route. Beginning at the “Y” in Oak Hill and continuing past the Pedernales River, Hwy. 71 winds through this area of the Hill Country. Along the way are numerous luxurious and prestigious private communities as well fabulous private homes tucked away along “The Lake” or in the hillsides.

Whether you are looking at Lake Travis North or Lake Travis South, each offers a spectacular variety of home sites, lifestyles and amenities that are available to visitors and residents alike.

Wonders of South Africa

Tourists to South Africa are generally dished up the usual itineraries where only the mainstream destinations of Cape Town, the Garden Route and the Kruger National Park are included.

However, for those select few who are prepared to make the effort, there are several fascinating destinations that offer visitors a glimpse into a nation that is both diverse and incomparably beautiful.

We have selected a couple of niche destinations you’d least expect to be interesting to the large number of tourists who flock to the country in growing numbers each year.

The vast majority of these ‘specialist’ villages and towns are well off the usual beaten track, so visitors inclined toward the unusual will have to opt for car rental.

Taung in the North West Province

Taung, the place of the lion, is the origin of one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries made to date; that of a lime-encrusted skull of early man. The priceless remains of a child is yet further proof that Africa was, and still is, the literal cradle of man. Today the area is a heritage site.

Once all the evidence of the bones has satisfied your archaeological bent, make for the popular ‘Blue Pools’, the source of which flows from the very same limestone formations that kept the Taung skull hidden for millennia.

Prieska in the Northern Cape

The town of Prieska is ideally situated on the banks of the mighty Orange River, a river that forms the natural boundary with neighbouring Namibia.

It can only really be accessed by car, so make for the nearest car rental company and hire a bakkie or 4×4, as the road from Cape Town is long and rugged.

Long the preferred production centre of tiger’s eye and other gemstones, it is still possible for the patient and eagle eyed amongst us to snaffle up a handful of these semi-precious gems in Prieska…..free, gratis, for nothing!

Once your treasure has been carefully stashed, take a good look at the area between Prieska and Vioolsdrif – it is the Rock Garden Route where rare succulents grow unhindered in the desert dust.

Other Attractions

  • Other local attractions include
  • Die Bos (The Bush) Nature Reserve that boasts abundant and colourful bird life
  • an old fort hewn out of tiger’s eye by the British during the infamous Anglo-Boer war the acclaimed Schumann Rock collection, featuring ancient Khoisan stone implements and semi-precious stones