Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Book A Holiday To Malta

Malta is a small island state in Europe, in the middle of the Mediterranean and is a popular holiday destination for many Europeans, mostly from the U.K., Germany, Italy, France and Holland. Tourists visit the island for various reasons and the island offers a variety of facets that will be of interest for most types of travellers. This article provides you with the top 10 reasons why booking a trip to Malta is a great idea, not only for next summer’s holiday season but all year round!
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10. Language and money in Malta

The Maltese have their own language (‘Maltese’) but the country has two official languages, with the second official language being English. Malta was under British rule for 160 years, gaining independence in 1964, but leaving the Maltese with a relatively strong knowledge of the English language, although Maltese is much more widely spoken and is the mother tongue for the vast majority of Maltese.
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For English speaking tourists this means that communication is almost no problem, which is definitely a benefit when on holiday. Although at the moment the Maltese Lira is still the only valid currency, the Euro will be introduced on January 1st, 2008 and many retailers in tourist areas already accept Euros for cash payment.
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9. Sports and leisure activities

Malta is a great location for a variety of sports, including hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, para gliding, wind surfing and yachting. Plenty of activities to keep you entertained, no matter the time of year. Most materials needed for these sports are available for low-priced rent and there are various locations on the islands where these sports can be exercised. Gozo is a particularly popular location for rock climbing, thanks to its steep cliffs, and mountain biking thanks to its quiet roads and excellent hill climbs.
Events, such as pop concerts and theatre shows, but also historical re-enactments such as In Guardia are popular among both tourists and locals and provide great entertainment for the whole family. Are you a fan of watching sports? Don’t worry about missing any big matches or events – satellite reception is widely used by the more popular pubs and there are plenty of appetizers and beer around to enjoy your favourite sports.
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8. Getting around in Malta is easy and cheap!

Don’t you hate it when you go for a holiday and it takes you ages to get to the beach or to visit a few cities, museums? Don’t you hate it when it takes a whole day to take one excursion, when you waste so much time on travelling from place to place which makes you wonder whether it was even worth the hassle? If your answer is yes, then Malta is definitely the holiday destination for you.
It takes less than an hour to get from one side to the island to the other and there’s such a high concentration of places of interest, beaches, holiday resorts and places for entertainment (restaurants, clubs, cinemas etc.), you’ll wish you’d have known about Malta earlier!
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A lot of tourists decide to visit Malta a second time and sometimes more, simply for the reason that there’s just so much to do and to see, and it takes so little money and time to get around and spend quality holiday time.

7. Gozo offers a peaceful setting to your summer holiday
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Malta is not just about Malta. Yes, that’s right, The Republic of Malta also covers Gozo, which is Malta’s sister island and is said to be the island that Malta used to be a long time ago – rural, quiet and untouched. Gozo is a great place for a peaceful (family or couples) holidays, with beautiful beaches and countryside views. Visit the capital Victoria, with its Citadel in the centre – a fortified part of the village which used to offer the inhabitants of Gozo shelter against foreign invaders, similar to Mdina’s surrounding walls on the main island Malta. The seaside town of Xlendi is a popular tourist destination, offering a beautiful view of its bay surrounded by high cliffs. Ramla l-Hamla and San Blas Bay are beautiful beaches to go for a swim, one being larger and busier, the other being more secluded and more difficult to get to (steep hill descent) but much worth the effort.

As of recent, a shuttle bus service is available, taking you straight from the airport to the ferries in the Northern most tip of the island of Malta, making arrangements for a Gozo holiday a little easier to plan for.

6. Malta has a rich culture and heritage
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Throughout the ages, the Maltese islands have seen various foreign rulers coming and going, and leaving behind their stamps on Maltese culture.
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As a result, Malta is soaked in culture and heritage and offers a large number of cultural and historical sites in very short distances from each other, making Malta a unique place in the world map of culture and heritage. Both in the Maltese language and culture remnants of Phoenician, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French and English invaders can still be found today and this melting pot of cultures is of interest to many tourists visiting the Maltese islands on holiday.
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5. Good quality hotels and accommodation

Good quality hotels and self-catering apartments are widely available at very reasonable prices. Package deals are usually the way to go, but booked separately the cost versus quality of accommodation is very good. The main areas for holiday resorts are St. Julian’s, Bugibba/Qawra, and Sliema, which are all situated in the Northern part of Malta.
Accommodation in St. Julian’s is recommended if you enjoy spending your nights going out but, being close to the nightlife hub of Malta, is not advisable for couples and family who are looking for peace and serenity. For those travellers, places like Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay are much better places to stay.
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4. Malta is an all year round destination

A flight from London to Malta takes less than three hours, but the difference in climate is huge. Mild winters and warm summers with an average temperature of 32C means excellent weather for both hot summer holidays as well as great holiday weather in winter, to escape from the cold back home. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained all year round and for example hiking is a popular way of spending days out in the countryside in winter, enjoying the scenery and serenity. Most cultural and historical hotspots are open all year round, and although open air clubs don’t open during the winter months, nightlife in Malta goes on throughout the whole year.
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3. Malta offers a great nightlife to complement your daily activities
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Nights out on the town are a ton of fun, since Malta hosts a true clubbing hub that goes by the name of Paceville (St. Julian’s) and which offers a large number of clubs which are situated literally door to door and which play different genres of music to suit everyone’s tastes. Open air clubs, however, are what makes clubbing in Malta rather special. Spending your warm summer nights dancing to the latest club and trance anthems or smooth R&B and hiphop beats under the stars is just something else and a must do on your holiday to Malta.
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2. Malta holidays now come with cheap flights

That’s right – low cost airlines have found Malta and offer dirt cheap flights to the island outside of the high season and regular cheap flights in summer. These airlines offer flights departing from a select number of places in Europe, such as London, Dublin, Barcelona, Oslo, Stockholm, Pisa (Italy) and Bremen (Germany).
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Look for airlines the likes of Ryanair, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Clickair, but don’t forget to check Malta’s national airline Air Malta, which regularly offers low cost flights to a much larger number of European destinations.
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1. Malta offers more than any other Mediterranean destination

You could say that the top reason for visiting Malta is a combination of all other reasons listed above: There are a lot of different things you can do during your holiday in Malta and you’ll never be bored if you get the right info. Baking in the sun on the beach is great for relaxation after a long year of work or school, but most people would prefer adding a little variety to the time they spend on holiday.
So if you’d like to go somewhere else besides the beach, why not visit on the many places of interest around the island? Visit the old capital city of Mdina, for example, surrounded by bastions and oozing with history and an ambiance you’ll never forget. Why not take a trip to sister island Gozo, with its serene country views and attractions such as the Azure Window, a rock formation sculpted by the sea.
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Evenings will never be boring when you know where to go. There is plenty of choice when it comes to dining out, as quality restaurants can be found in most parts of the island. Wine bars and pubs are also popular in Malta and provide quality wines and both local and international lagers, beers and various popular brands of liquor. There’s plenty of opportunity for clubbing and open air clubs and parties are a must see if clubbing is your ideal night out.
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3 Fun Camping Games For Adults That You Have To Play

Once the sun is down and the bonfire is lit, the fun and games are ready to begin! Star gazing, having a cold beer or singing a song in unison around the campfire usually suffices, but if you want to up your campfire game and everyone’s not ready to go to bed yet, try these super fun camping games for adults – it will surely make your camping trip even more memorable!

Two Truths and A Lie

This is a classic fun game that encourages everyone to participate. It serves as a great ice breaker if you’re just hanging around the campfire at night. This is best played among individuals who don’t know each other too well (think camp neighbors who decided to hang out together).

Each participant will think of of 2 facts about them (it could also be something they’ve done) and write those down in a piece of paper. Be creative about what you write – the stranger and the more vague the fact is, the more fun the game. In addition, come up with a lie.

Take turns to state these 3 “facts” and have everyone guess which of the 3 is the lie!

Wink Murder

Another classic game that is perfect for playing around a campfire. This one is best played by a large group of people – the more, the merrier!

Everyone sits around in a circle and will be asked to close their eyes. The “leader” (someone who won’t be playing) will walk around and choose the “murderer” by tapping them on the shoulder. If you get a tap, then you’re the murderer.

Once the murderer is chosen, the leader will ask everyone to open their eyes. The murderer then proceeds to “kill” victims by winking at them secretly and discreetly and they must do so without anyone from the circle noticing.

If you get winked at, you’re out. One can only win if someone who’s still in the game catches the murderer wink at someone.

Famous People

This is a fairly easy game with simple rules but is extremely fun to play. Basically, someone will begin the game by saying a famous person’s name out loud. The next person in the circle must think of another famous person with a first name that starts with the first letter of the previously mentioned famous person. If it’s your turn and you can’t think of an answer, you’re out.

Play these fun camping games for adults at your next outdoor adventure for more enjoyment!


Honey As A Great First Aid Treatment For Adventurous Travellers

An unwanted cut, graze, or other wound can be an unwelcome intrusion on your holiday. Whether it has come from a crash mountain biking, a tumble while trekking, bashing through thick jungle in the tropics, or any other mishap that may happen. You want to get it treated as best you can to prevent infection from occurring, and start it healing.

Honey just may be your best first aid treatment, especially if you are in more remote locations. Honey? that stuff you normally put on toast? Yes.

Not so much the mass produced supermarket ones, as these have often had heat used in their processing, and that heat destroys many of the natural healing properties honey can provide.

This is not actually a new thing though. A few thousand years ago, the Greeks and Egyptians made use of honey for treating wounds.

Hydrogen peroxide occurs to some degree in all honeys, and this gives some antiseptic property to help fight infection. The more natural the honey is, the better.

Of particular relevance to travellers though, is that by using honey on a wound, the layer that you create forms a barrier to prevent further infection from entering. This can be quite important in many circumstances. It also means that if you don’t have a nice sterile bandage ready to use, the layer of honey helps stop that dirtier piece of cloth you end up using as a bandage from having direct contact with the wound.

It is also very useful in locations where clean water is not so readily available. Plus in most parts of the world they will produce a local supply of honey, and generally it is not expensive.

There is one particular honey that has been proven to be better than the rest for treating wounds, both for dealing with infection, and healing. Manuka Honey from New Zealand, specifically the ‘UMF’ manuka honey contains extra antibacterial and antiseptic properties not found in other honeys, and is supported by academic research. It is now used in some hospitals for treating difficult to heal wounds, in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. Apart from helping fight infection, it aids the healing process, and can reduce the amount of scarring.

This is now exported from New Zealand to a growing number of countries. It is even possible to get a tube of sterilised manuka honey that is easily taken with you on your travels.

Otherwise, make use of the local honey of the area you are in. It’s natures first aid.


Weddings in the Free State Or Mpumalanga Provinces

The Free state offers the traveller many dams and nature reserves as well as interesting historical memorials and museums for those interested in discovering and learning more about the Anglo Boer War as well as the old presidency of South Africa.

The Golden Gate Highlands, one of South Africa’s many National parks is a worth-while attraction offering unspoiled natural beauty. Situated at the base of the Maluti Mountains the Golden Gate itself is formed by two massive, russet-burnished rocks 76 meters in height.

The 10,000-hectare reserve abounds with plains game and bird life and with its hiking trails, mountain streams and waterfalls makes it a spectacular destination for both holiday and honeymoon travel in South Africa.

Mpumalanga – ‘the escarpment’ The Lowveld Drakensberg escarpment offers a 70 km circular route from Graskop, through Pilgrims rest, through the plantations of the London and Blyde Nature reserves to the Pinnacle Nature Reserve.

Many waterfalls can be seen on this route the most worthwhile being Gods Window, which (in good weather) allows you views of the Lowveld 1000m below as well as offering you breathtaking sights of the rocky escarpment. Pilgrims Rest a once bustling mining village and now a museum of the past is a must.

Coming in from Lydenberg one can visit the little town of Sabi via the Long Tom pass, a gentle reminder of the hard-ships of yesteryear.

This was the ‘hawepad’ harbour road used by traders between Lydenberg and Delagoa Bay. Viewing the splendid scenery one can only marvel at the endurance of taking a wagon across this terrain. Closing your eyes you can almost hear the echo of battlefields and war cries as the memories of the capture of Lydenberg in 1900’s in the Anglo-Boer war remain reminiscent in the history of this area.

Botanical gardens, nature reserves and splendid waterfalls are all part of this scenic area, stop for a picnic and take in all of its wonders and truly know that South Africans have been blessed with a land that speaks and whispers of beauty and possibility.

There are many venues from private resorts to Game Lodges with opulent luxury to choose from, too many to mention this time, but consider them for the start of your life of discovery together.


Best Holiday Destination in South Africa – KwaZulu-Natal

When I think of the key reasons people travel to South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal offers them all – so I thought it would be interesting to run through those reasons and show you how KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has the answer.

Scenery. South Africa’s stunning landscapes and gorgeous coastline is a major draw card, and it’s safe to say that KZN has some of the best scenery in the country. Top of the list would be the Drakensberg Mountains, towering and impenetrable (their Zulu name translates as “Barrier of Spears”). They are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and offer a variety of experiences to the visitor, from short hikes to overnight trails, and from wildlife to millennia-old San rock-art. From mountains that touch the sky, we move through to golden beaches that meet the ocean. Along the Elephant Coast are mile upon mile of deserted beach, fringed with luscious coastal forest and pitted with the nests of endangered turtles: an inspiring landscape if ever there was one.

Culture. With its eleven official languages and many, many different tribes and ethnic groups, South Africa loves to showcase its culture. In KZN, as the name suggests, this means the Zulu culture. A proud tribe, built on the military might that gave the British a bloody nose at Isandlwana (more of which later), the Zulus are making great efforts to preserve their traditional customs and practices, and a visit to a traditional homestead is one way to see this in action; it’s also very likely that at some point during your time in the province you’ll be treated to a display of the energetic, athletic and entrancing Zulu dancing.

History. The history of South Africa, from the advent of European settlers right through to the end of apartheid is tumultuous and holds a special fascination. KZN’s major slice of that history is the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer wars. Names like Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and Spionkop resonate through the intervening century, and are dramatically bought to life by absolutely superb battlefield guides. Immediacy is the key to these battlefield tours: you’re standing on the exact spot where this soldier and that Zulu warrior clashed: in many cases we know their names and their backgrounds, we know how they fought and how they died. It’s incredibly moving.

Cosmopolitan City Life. Cities like Cape Town are a huge draw for visitors to South Africa, and Durban is right in the front rank of South African cities. Recent redevelopment, thanks in part to the FIFA World Cup, has seen Durban transformed. Next to the harbour is the impressive uShaka Marine Park, start of a boulevard of several miles linking the fantastic beaches of the city (Durban’s Golden Mile) with the impressive Moses Mabhida Stadium. Visitors can fly into the gleaming new international airport and stay in a growing array of smart, boutique hotels, and eat in stylish restaurants. As a place to bookend your travels around the province, Durban is hard to beat.

Relaxation. South Africa is all about relaxing, chilling out and enjoying great weather, wonderful food and gorgeous local wines; fortunately KZN is well able to deliver on this front as well. Just outside Durban you’ll find the Midlands, a beautiful area of gently rolling countryside, dotted with perfect little country getaways. These hotels have made a real name for themselves offering beautiful accommodation and the most amazing food – wholesome, decedent meals paired with selections from extensive and impressive wine cellars. It’s an amazing way to unwind for a couple of days (though not too much longer if you’re keeping an eye on your waistline!).

Wildlife. I’ve left wildlife till last because for so many people it’s a major highlight of their trips to South Africa: saving the best for last! I’ve already mentioned the wildlife of the Drakensberg Mountains – you’ll find herds of enormous, mystical eland here as well as the Lammergeier (or Bearded) Vulture. But it’s big game safari that most people want to see, and KZN really delivers. It’s a province right at the forefront of eco-tourism and conservation. The vast Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Reserve in the heart of KZN can claim to be the place the rhino was saved from extinction, as all the initial rebreeding work for the white rhino took place here in the 50’s and 60’s. Nearby Phinda Private Game Reserve was one of the first game reserves to take farmland and return it to its indigenous condition, letting the natural vegetation grow back and reintroducing the wildlife that had been absent for decades; the result is a wonderful reserve with excellent opportunities for viewing big game.

So when you add it all together, you can see that KwaZulu-Natal really does have it all. A two week trip round the province will allow you to experience the very best it has to offer and is a microcosm of everything that’s best about South Africa.


Hello from Austria – Medieval History Up Close at the Riegersburg Fortress and Explorations of Styri

Having recovered from my action-packed day yesterday which included a photo safari of my home town, some extreme hiking and subsequent culinary feasting (to counteract any potential weight loss), my final day in Austria had arrived and it was also going to be an exciting one. My brother Ewald and my sister-in-law Anneliese had planned an outing to one of Styria’s true medieval treasures: the Riegersburg, a majestic fortress that was first constructed in the 11th century in the strategically important border region of the Austrian empire.

Styria is one of the lesser known Austrian provinces, most people are more familiar with the area around the capital Vienna; the region surrounding Salzburg (“Sound of Music” country) and Tyrol with its high mountains and the capital of Innsbruck. Styria, although the second largest Austrian province that features the country’s second largest city (its capital, Graz), has largely remained below the radar of most North American tourists.

As far as I am concerned, it is one of the most beautiful spots, and I don’t just say that because I am originally from there. As a matter of fact, one of the explicit goals of my trip to Austria this year was to view the area I grew up in through the eyes of a travel writer and put it in context with some of the other areas that I have had a chance to visit over the last few years.

Styria is composed of eight major travel regions:

– the Dachstein – Tauern Region, characterized by high mountains, great skiing and other outdoor diversions

– the picturesque lake area of the Salzkammergut – Ausseerland

– the Murtal holiday region, a densely forested area offering lots of outdoor activities

– Upper Styria, another mountainous region that features the “Styrian Water Road” , the “Styrian Iron Road” as well as the Hochschwab mountain region

– Graz, the province’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the 2003 European Cultural Capital

– Eastern Styria, my native region, an enchanting region characterized by medium size mountains, Austria’s largest mountain pasture, orchards, fertile farmland, monasteries and castles

– Thermenland Styria, a region full of gently rolling hills, vineyards and ancient volcanic activity that has created six world caliber spa resorts, and

– The South Styrian Wine Region and Western Styria where gently sloping hills full of vineyards and the famous White Horses destined for the Vienna Riding School invite to an area that is often referred to as the “Austrian Tuscany”.

Today’s destination, the Riegersburg, is located just at the southern border of the Eastern Styria travel region, right adjacent to the volcanic region of the Thermenland area. As a matter of fact, the fortress itself is built on the ancient volcanic cone of a long-extinct volcano. We started our drive from Weiz through the Raab Valley and the rural town of Gleisdorf. There we turned off the major road onto smaller country roads that took us through beautiful rolling hills, many of which feature orchards and vineyards.

Many of these small side roads are official bicycle trails which are conveniently signed and many of the local vintners own little rural restaurants called “Buschenschenken” whose garden terraces invite hikers, bikers and other travelers to sit down and enjoy Styrian culinary delicacies and wine. We encountered hardly any traffic, and on this beautiful warm summer day many cyclists were out there getting a good workout and enjoying the scenery.

After about 45 minutes we had reached our destination: a basaltic rock crowned with the majestic Riegersburg fortress was right in front of us. We parked the car in the village at the foot of the rock and started our ascent up to the castle. The narrow road lacks pavement and is essentially composed of dark volcanic rock that features many narrow grooves and ruts from hundreds of years of use by horse carriages. We entered through the first gate which was one of many. Altogether the Riegersburg has seven major gates and eleven bastions. The defensive wall around the fortress is an impressive three kilometers long. The combination of these features made the fortress the most important fortification at the Styrian border of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The strategic importance of this border region becomes evident in the context of the 16th and 17th century Ottoman Wars between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. The area of Eastern Styria in particular was often under threat of invasion by forces from the East. In 1664 a decisive final battle was fought in nearby Mogersdorf which ended the two-year war against the Turks. The Riegersburg itself was never conquered and as a result it came to be referred to as the “strongest fortification of Christianity”. It was part of an entire series of border fortresses along the boundary of the Habsburg Empire.

We walked slowly up to the castle on the rutted road that was surrounded by a crenellated wall that would allow sharpshooters to target potential invaders approaching the fortress. On an open plateau below the actual castle building there are numerous plaques mounted on a wall, providing a memorial to hundreds of soldiers from surrounding villages that fell during World War II. Each village had its own plaque. Another picturesque gate took us to the last part of the path that would take us right up to the fortress. At the foot of the fortress is the “Burgtaverne”, a restaurant with a beautiful large outdoor patio that features a gorgeous view of the surrounding countryside and entices with traditional Austrian cuisine.

As we approached the fortress itself we walked across two moats that were each equipped with a drawbridge and the second inner moat actually still had water in it. We were now truly inside the building complex of the fortress and through a large inner courtyard we approached the central building which features the retail store where we purchased our 9.5 Euro admission to the central part of the fortress.

The name of the Riegersburg fortress was originally mentioned in 1138 as “Ruotkerspurch”, which actually means “Rüdiger’s castle”, so the fortress originally belonged to an aristocrat by that name. It underwent major reconstruction during the late 16th century to include late Renaissance architectural features. The large ceremonial rooms and the arcade in the inner courtyard date back to this era.

Two permanent exhibitions are being hosted in the Riegersburg: the “Witch Museum” in the cellar focuses on the obsession with and persecution of witches which had gripped Central European countries from about 1450 until 1750. About 300 presumed witches and sorcerers were persecuted in witch trials in Styria and many of them were executed. The peak of the witch-hunting frenzy took place during the 30 Years’ War from 1618 to 1648 when the war and the so-called “minor ice age” had destroyed agriculture and decimated the population, much of which of course was blamed on the evil doing of supposed witches.

We were planning to see the other exhibition: “Legendary Riegersburg – Legendary Women”. Two very colourful female characters are associated with the history of this fortress. The first one was Baroness Elisabeth Katharina von Galler (1607 to 1672) who was the lady of the castle from 1648 to 1672. In a time of very traditional male-female role expectations the “Galllerin” was a very unconventional character and strayed from the usual norms. Women, even aristocratic women, were not allowed to own property at the time, and Elisabeth, as the sole heiress of the fortress, would have had to relinquish any property ownership to her husband, but she refused to comply. Even in her prenuptial agreement she ensured the right to decide over her property herself.

Baroness Elisabeth von Galler initiated a complete reconstruction of the fortress which included the stunning baroque White Hall as well as the construction of the numerous bastions, gates and the extensive walls surrounding the castle. Several inscriptions above different gates point out that she spent a lot of money on this construction work. Her husband incurred major debt and in 1649 she paid him out with a substantial sum of money and got rid of him. Altogether Baroness von Galler was married three times and involved in several legal battles with her husbands, and local clergy.

The other interesting female character featured in the “Legendary Women” exhibition is Katharina Paldauf who was an employee of Baroness von Galler for whom she started working at 20 years of age. From 1673 to 1675 she got embroiled in the Feldbach Witch Trial and was accused of having manipulated weather and participated in witch Sabbaths.The legends also say that she was able to grow roses in winter, a talent that earned her the moniker “the flower witch”. For her supernatural powers to grow flowers in the off-season she was accused being a witch and was presumably executed in 1675.

Various displays in the exhibition also shed light on the historical background of the 16th and 17th centuries. Servitude and feudalism characterized the power structures during the Middle Ages, and peasants had a very difficult life while aristocrats formed a hereditary elite that was entitled to hold lands and exercise far-reaching powers over the common people. The mostly agrarian economy at the time obligated peasants to deliver a substantial share of their production to the local lords and noblemen who in turn promised them protection during periods of war. This was an era of extensive exploitation and lords had the right to use peasants’ land as they pleased. Often a peasant would require the permission of a lord when he intended to marry, and onerous taxes were imposed on the peasant class. These harsh conditions actually led to many peasant rebellions throughout Central Europe in the 16h century.

The noblemen on the other hand lived a lavish lifestyle. An inscription at the entrance of the fortress indicates that an excessive feast during the 1600s resulted in 21 days of binge eating and drinking. The opulently decorated Knights Hall was the location of many such bouts and a wooden bridge connecting it with another hall was used for relieving oneself after all this carousing and is commonly referred to as the “vomiting bridge”. Even today the figure of a man bent over adorns the bridge, reminding people of its original purpose.

We were awed by the lavish detailing in the former living quarters of the Riegersburg, in particular by the Hall of Knights with its coffered ceiling and the opulently decorated baroque White Hall. When we walked through the premises, the White Hall still featured table decorations and leftovers from a wedding that had been held a few days earlier at the fortress. The castle today is owned by the Liechtenstein family, an aristocratic family that has been living at this castle since 1972. One of the family members had just recently gotten married. The beautiful flower decorations and wedding menus gave us an idea of what some of these historic feasts must have looked like.

We had enjoyed our first-hand history lesson and were ready to keep exploring so we walked down the long basaltic road into the town of Riegersburg that sprawls at the foot of the fortress. A baroque church and several restaurants anchor the picturesque main square of the village and there is a large pond on the outskirts of the village that features a resort with beach volleyball, a water slide, tennis and eateries.

We then continued our big country drive to our next destination: the Castle of Kapfenstein, about 20 minutes from the Riegersburg, is also located on an extinct volcano close to the Hungarian and Slovenian borders. Its recorded history dates back to 1065 and it was one of the fortresses that protected Austria from attacks by the Magyars and Turks. The castle was owned by different noble families until it came into the possession of the Winkler-Hermaden family in 1898.

Today the castle holds a 15-room upscale hotel as well as a restaurant with extensive outdoor patios that provide a stunning view into the surrounding countryside. We picked a beautiful spot on the terrace and started perusing the menu. A wedding had obviously just happened at the castle hotel because the bride and the groom were still carrying presents out to their vehicles. We decided to taste some local delicacies, and I enjoyed my mushroom soup with roasted buckwheat and a cheese platter with a broad assortment of Austrian specialty cheeses.

Our late lunch had stretched into the mid-afternoon and it was now time to continue our journey. But before moving on we took a little 15 minute stroll through a forest and some vineyards to a small chapel on the plateau next to the Castle of Kapfenstein. From here we had a perfect view northwards and through a magnifying viewer we were able to see our previous destination, the volcanic cone of the Riegersburg.

It was time to return so we started our drive back to Weiz. We had made arrangements with our friends Luis and Isabella to join them for a little backyard get-together on my last evening in Austria. Both my friends are avid motor scooter riders and Luis allowed me to hop on one of their two-wheeled machines and accompanied me on a little test drive. I had ridden a motor scooter for the first and so far only time in my life on the island of Ibiza and was exhilarated to have another go at it. After some initial balancing problems and after getting used to adjusting the gas on the handlebar grip we finally got off to a decent start on our little adventure and took an exciting spin on the local country roads.

Twenty minutes later we returned and sat down in their beautiful garden, admiring the large pond that the two of them had created. We all reminisced a bit about the time in 2005 when my brother, my sister-in-law and these two friends had come to Toronto for a visit. This was the first time that I saw my friends again, this time on their home turf. We were even thinking that one of these years we should do a joint skiing vacation in Schladming in Upper Styria, a phenomenal skiing region that is often the location world cup ski races and a place where my friends go skiing on a regular basis.

The sun was starting to set and it was time for me to get back to brother’s place and to start packing my suitcase. I said goodbye to my friends and invited them to come for another visit to Toronto. Ewald, Anneliese and I spent another nice few hours at their home as I got ready for my departure, feeling rather sad about the impending end of my trip.

Without a doubt this has been my best visit since I left my home town 21 years ago. Nine days just wasn’t long enough to even explore the sights of my immediate area. In addition to the wonderful connections with my family and some good friends, I had learned during the last few days that Styria, the region I was born into, was certainly on par with many other tourism areas that I have visited throughout North America and Europe.

Styria’s beautiful landscapes, the extensive opportunities for outdoor recreation, the architecture, history, music, culture, and last but not least, the delicious cuisine will definitely make me come back again.


4 Easy Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Camping Tent

Your camping tent is not only the place you will sleep in when you’re outdoors, but it also protects you and keeps you safe from outside elements. Having said this, your tent deserves care and attention to help it extend its life.

Here are some ways on how you can care for your camping tent:

Protect the floor of your tent

The key here is the spot where you’ll be setting up camp. An ideal area would be a spot that is smooth and level. Clear the area of small debris like rocks, twigs, pine cones and the like as these might cause cuts to your tent’s floor. To further protect the floor, use a footprint, a ground cloth that will provide the floor of your tent an even smoother surface to be set up in. Lastly, don’t bring any foot wear inside!

Keep away from the sun

Not only are the sun’s UV rays harmful to your skin but to your tent’s surface, too. The UV rays would do damage to both the fabric and the nylon fibers. Your best bet is to set up camp at a shady area, but if you can’t find one, use a tarp to shade your tent. If you’re going to be out for a while (hiking, fishing or backpacking), remove your tent from direct sunlight.

Keep the food outside

Don’t bring food and eat inside of your tent. There are a multitude of insects out in the woods and food attracts many of them. You don’t want insects to be crawling all over your tent and trying to chew their way in through the fabric just to get to the food. And besides, camp food should always be placed in tightly sealed containers to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife to the campsite.

Keep your tent clean

While packing up, give your tent a good shake to get rid of any dust and dirt that may have accumulated both inside and outside. It’s ideal to wash it every after use to ensure that there’s no mildew on any surface and also to remove dirt in the zipper which will help prevent it from malfunctioning in the future. Don’t forget to dry your tent completely before storing it loosely in a bag at a cool, dry place.

Follow these easy tips to extend the life of your camping tent and you’re sure to enjoy its service for many years to come!


Nelson Adventure Travel

Nestled in the top north west corner of New Zealand’s south island is the sunny Nelson region. With its mild climate and abundant sunshine, this rugged wilderness is the ideal location for adventure seekers looking for an action-packed travel experience.

Nelson City, the region’s hub, is a great base for those who want to experience the best adventure tourism this region has to offer. Nelson’s diverse and magnificent landscape is comprised of white sandy beaches, lush forests and rugged mountains. With great centrally located accommodation available like the Quality Inn Nelson this pristine wilderness adventure playground is the perfect destination for your next holiday.

Golden Bay

The secluded coastal waters of Golden Bay are the undisputed hidden gem of the south island. And with so many warm, golden sandy beaches to choose from Golden Bay is a great destination for that family holiday adventure. Why not take a day trip to Ligar Bay or Wainiu for a truly invigorating beach experience? Or if high-energy water sports are at the top of your ‘to do’ list then Abel Tasman National Park is the destination for you. Grab your wetsuit and head down to the deeper waters of Tata Beach or Totaranui, a popular spot for water skiing and kayaking enthusiasts.

Submerge yourself in one of the crystal clear river swimming holes along the 1.5 kilometre track that leads to picturesque Wainui Falls. Along the way, see the majestic nikau palms, rata trees and ferns. Or take a walk through native forests to New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs at Te Waikoropupu, renowned as the clearest spring waters in the world.

A trip to the south island would not be complete without a tour of the Farewell Spit, known as Onetahua by the Maori people. For a superb sustainable-tourism experience why not book a Farewell Spit eco-tour and be amazed by the unique landscape of the south island’s most northerly point. Visit famous Farewell Spit Lighthouse and see the vast vertical cliffs of Cape Farewell – a spectacular site not to be missed. If you’re looking for a sightseeing tour with a difference, why not try horse riding along the secluded Wharariki Beach? The untouched coastal landscape of the Golden Bay region is guaranteed to take your breath away.

Murchison – New Zealand’s white water capital!

Get your action fix with a white water rafting experience at famous Murchison. With seven fast-flowing rivers to its name, it’s no surprise this region is known as the white water capital of New Zealand. In fact, this pristine river region offers some of the best rafting in the world. From family friendly day trips to adrenalin-charged wilderness heli-rafting, Murchison has it all. But there’s more! Murchison is also a prime destination for kayaking, canoeing and jet boating, and out of the water there are top rate mountain biking tracks for off-road cycling enthusiasts to enjoy.

Walking and hiking

Covering 452,000 hectare Kahurangi National Park is New Zealand’s second largest national park and is recognised as a premier hiking region. For committed adventure trekkers looking for a 5 to 6 day hiking trip, the Heaphy Track at Kahurangi is a ‘must do’. From alpine mountain track to glorious palm lined beaches this extensive hike offers a unique view of the New Zealand terrain. See first-hand how this majestic landscape changes from the inland to the sea.

Experience the crystal clear glacial waters and rugged alpine mountains of Nelson Lakes National Park. This walkers’ paradise has a range of tracks suitable for beginners through to experienced hikers. Famous for its native honey dew forests and nectar-eating birds, a visit to Nelson Lakes is a magical experience not to be missed.

Kayaking and fly fishing

Soak up the thrill of a sea kayaking adventure around the famous Split Apple Rock in the crisp waters of the Abel Tasman National Park. Explore the many lagoons and coves and get a close up view of the native sea and bird life. If fishing is your game, then cast a line with the best at the Travers, Sabine or D’Urville rivers. With some of the best fly fishing in the world, keen anglers will not want to miss the opportunity to cast a line in search of a stunning rainbow or brown trout.

The Nelson region is the perfect destination for the action traveller in search of a pure New Zealand adventure experience.


The 10 Best Bangkok Pattaya Tour, Excursions & Activities – D Asia Travels

1. Visit Wat Po to see the Reclining Buddha

Wat Po is the home to the reclining Buddha which is 15-m high and 46-m long. The statue of Lord Buddha is covered entirely in gold leaf and looks magnificent from up close. The temples have 108 bowls located in various places all across the temples and visitors can purchase coins to put in on of these bowls. The Wat Po is a must visit the site for every traveler in Bangkok and is an integral part of our Bangkok Pattaya Tour.

2. A Visit to the Grand Palace

The grand palace is one of the most important and famous attractions in Bangkok and any visit to Bangkok is incomplete without a visit to the Grand Palace, making it an important destination on our Bangkok Pattaya Tour. This palace once served as the official residence of the Royal Family of Thailand. This palace covers an area of 214000 sq. Meters.

3.Shopping in Bangkok

Bangkok is a shopaholics paradise, with a wide array of options from street shopping to high-end malls. The Chatuchak market is only open on weekends and attracts over 200,000 visitors per day. The market is spread across an area of 27 acres and covers more than 8000 stalls selling a wide array of items such as clothing, accessories, electronic goods and gadgets, shoes etc.

For high-end shoppers, the Siam Paragon Mall offers a wide range of attractions from designer stores, the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia, a large multiplex cinema and a wide variety of restaurant offering different cuisines. The mall also houses showrooms for Ferrari and Lamborghini, which attracts a lot of visitors to the mall daily. Shopping excursion trips are a highlight of our Bangkok Pattaya Tour and no trip to Bangkok is complete without shopping.

4. Enjoy a Boat cruise on the Chao Phraya River

Often referred to as the “Venice of the East”, the Chao Phraya river flows through Bangkok and feeds into many canals. The river is considered as the lifeline of Bangkok and provides a source of income for thousands of locals. Many ferries and boat cruises are available which showcase different sides of Bangkok, from high rise condominiums and fancy hotels to wooden shacks and lives of common-resident of Bangkok is a must recommended excursion in our Bangkok Pattaya Tour.

5.Participate in the water fight during Songkran

The Songkran is a traditional Thai New Years festival celebrates between 13th and 15th April every year. In the Buddhist culture, it is believed that sprinkling water helps washing off bad luck and your past sins. Today, this custom has become a full-fledged water fight where no one is spared from getting wet, and the entire festival becomes one big party. Our Bangkok Pattaya Tour can arrange a visit to these water fights during Songkran.

6.Explore the nightlife of the Walking Street, Pattaya

A highlight of our Bangkok Pattaya Tour, the walking street is a 500m stretch of street where entry of vehicles is not allowed after 6 pm and provides one of the most amazing. This street is full of bars, restaurants, go-go bars, adult entertainment, night-clubs where travelers can party all night. While it might be deserted entirely during the day, this street undergoes a 180-degree transformation post-sun-set with the Walking street adorned with bright neon lights, loud music, and adult entertainers hitting the street.

7. Go, Island Hopping,

Our Bangkok Pattaya Tour can arrange multiple tours for island hopping from Pattaya ranging from group tours on large boats to chartering a speedboat. Travelers can visit the Coral Island, Koh Sak, Koh Krok, Koh Phai or the Bamboo Island, Koh Rin or the (Gnat Island), Koh Krham, Monkey Island, Koh Si Chang and Koh Samet.

Travels can enjoy a wide array of activities during their island hopping tours like exploring islands, lazing on the beach, indulging in water sports, snorkeling or enjoy and the beautiful landscape, pristine waters and sights and scenes during hopping from one island to another.

Many boats are equipped with glass-floors which allow visitors to experience and witness the underwater and marine life, and these boats can be arranged in our Bangkok Pattaya Tour.

8.Ascend the Hill at Wat Phra Khao Yai

Also known as the Big Buddha Hill, the Way Phra Khao Yai is the most prominent statue of Buddha in Pattaya and is about 18-m high and is seated at the height of 100-meters above sea level. An important attraction in our Bangkok Pattaya Tour, visitors are required to climb steep steps to reach the statue of Buddha from where visitors can have a panoramic view of the Jomtien Beach. The Statue is located near a temple complex wherein travellers can experience spirituality with inhaling the fragrance of the incense burning all day in the temple complex and chiming of the bells and chanting of prayers by the monks.

9.Be Mesmerise at Tiffany’s Cabaret

One of the most popular activities on the Bangkok Pattaya Tour list of excursions and activities, the Tiffany’s has been hosting shows for over three decades and entertains over 2000 people in the audience daily. This show involves an hour of non-stop excitement with entertaining performances by ladyboys dressed in beautiful costumes and delivering mesmerizing performance that it is difficult for the audience members to spot out that the performers are not women. The show is suitable for children as well with the raunchiness toned down.

10.Visiting Krabi

Krabi is a beautiful island and a popular holiday destination in southeast Thailand and is known for its stunning scenery, both inland and at sea. Krabi has over 150 islands with most of them covered with white sands beaches and turquoise waters, jungle-covered interiors, tall limestone cliffs, caves, waterfalls and exotic wildlife.

We highly recommend travelers of our Bangkok Pattaya Tour to visit Krabi and enjoy a wide range of actives such as island-hopping, snorkeling, rock climbing, trekking, scuba diving, relaxing on the beach, shopping and indulging in fine cuisine. More info visit our site:- or Whatsapp to +60124250469


North West Province, South Africa – World Cup 2010, Big 5 & Sun City

The North West Province of South Africa is situated in the western Magaliesberg and provides plenty to see and do in the popular holiday destinations such as Rustenburg.

Rustenburg, which translated literally means “town of rest”, is the third oldest town of the former Transvaal Province. The city has been chosen as one of the host cities for the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2010 and will be staging games at the 40,000 Royal Bafekong Stadium previously used for the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
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Just half an hour’s drive from here will find you at the glamorous Sun City complex and its enormous range of leisure options. The complex providing an excellent combination of golf, game and gambling, as well as world class hotels, is the perfect choice for any holiday in South Africa. Close by the Pilanesberg Game Reserve provides travellers an excellent chance of spotting the “Big Five”.

To appreciate the history of this area then you should visit Mafikeng and in particular its museum, which has exhibits relating to the Siege of Mafeking, the Barolong people and San (Bushmen) which are interesting. In addition, the pretty towns of Lichtenburg, Klerksdorp and Potchefstroom are of particular interest.

At the Pilanesberg National Park, you will discover the crater of a long extinct volcano with an amazing alkaline complex created from activity over 1290 million years ago. This is one of the largest volcanic complexes in the world and its rare rock structure and type make it a unique geological feature. This area has survived ages of erosion and can be seen high above the surrounding bushveld plains. It is possible to see the early existence of man in the numerous Stone and Iron Age sites throughout the park.

On the parks undulating hills and stretching open plains, you can get a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’, an abundance of animals and over 360 bird species. As well as the ‘Big Five’ you may also spot the nocturnal brown hyena, cheetah, hippo, crocodile and even sable.