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Travelling to Africa for the First Time? Going it alone? This article has some things you need to know. What to do, what not to do, and how to avoid trouble if trouble comes looking for you.

Travelling to Africa - A Guide for the Single First Timer

Travelling to Africa - A Guide for the Single First TimerTravelling to AfricaIf you're from the West and your thinking of travelling to Africa for the first time or for a holiday, or to meet someone you've met from a dating site such as AfrikaDating or others, then congratulations! If you've been before you can probably ignore all this, but if it's your first time, then it might be of use to you.Firstly, you're a lucky person. Not many people can afford to travel to Africa, it's a long-haul flight in most cases and a lot of Africans would like to be going the other way! Now, do you have family there? Are you meeting someone for the first time? Are you going on a package tour? If you've got family or you're going on a package tour, most things like where you'll stay and your safety will be taken care of.How are you travelling?If you are going alone, then its best to make sure that the person you are meeting at the other end is genuine and you trust that person. If you're not sure, make a contingency plan in case you get into trouble. Find out where your country embassy is in that country and their phone number. If you're worried try and make a number of bookings yourself, such as your hotel. A lot of hotels will take email bookings but you can use cheap international calls to phone up a hotel to make your reservation. You'll be charged a lot if you book into a Sheraton or Holiday Inn however, and sometimes those places can be strict, especially they will charge you more if you bring a guest to your room.HealthBefore you go make sure you've had your relevant jabs. There are certain health risks, the most significant of which are Malaria and HIV/AIDS. Take a trip to your travel clinic, GP or doctor and get the relevant jabs. These can take weeks to get, so its best to plan in advance or you may want to find a private travel clinic. Even if you are of African origin, its best to be sure since viruses and other bugs mutate over time and when you might previously have been immune, you might not be to more recent viruses.MalariaCheck if your travelling to a malarial area. Get the relevant anti-malarial medication from your doctor, and take it. Malaria is a killer and its best not to mess about. And get an idea of the symptoms of malaria so you can recognise it in case you catch it anyway. The general symptoms include headache, nausea, fever, vomiting and flu-like symptoms, although these symptoms may differ depending on the type you've contracted. Malaria can come on several months after returning from an infected area, and if you get ill after you come back, make sure you mention to any doctor treating you that you've been to a malarial area.Sexual HealthIf you're intending to be sexually active then take condoms with you. Some people slur the standard of African condoms however, they are generally of a high standard and can be bought readily and cheaply in most African countries. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea are common. HIV/AIDS, while treatable in the west, is still one of the major killers in Africa, so take care. If you're going to get married then you can take all the relevant tests then, in the meantime simply play safe. That's use CONDOMS!If it turns our you or your partner are HIV positive, its not the end of the world and there are organisations out there to help you cope with the diagnosis and help you find the course of action you are most comfortable with. This is a highly sensitive and complex area, and we'll be adding further information on this site in due course.Country BackgroundMost developed countries will have detailed country information for travellers available over the internet. The most extensive of these are with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK, and the US Department of State. Read them and absorb them but take them with a pinch of salt as they can scare the living crap out of you and put you off travelling. In the bureaucrat's world, everything foreign is bad and everything indigenous is good. For example, you might find warnings against travelling to Bali due to terrorist activity, but not to Spain although both countries were attacked by al-Qaida terrorists.Basically your government is risk averse and doesn't want to get sued for giving wrongful advice, for example if you based your trip abroad on favourable country advice and then got bombed, you might be able to sue them. So bear that in mind. For example the FCO still advises on Kenya that "Do not accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged" although there is no evidence of Kenyan locals running around with drugged sweets forcing them into foreigners mouths, and it may even be based on a rumour that is several years old.However, before I run the risk of pooh-poohing the whole country reports system, they do contain valuable information and valuable warnings. It's a good idea to read them and familiarise yourself with the contents and the particular thing that you MUST take notice of, such as health information, visa requirements and do's and don'ts.MoneyThe banking system in Africa generally does not provide as many services as you may expect in a Western country. You might be able to use credit cards and your current bank cards in come countries, but not in others. You may be able to use your bank card in certain establishments, or there may be just one. For example, if you wanted to make a cash withdrawal on your credit card in Uganda (last time I was there), there was only one places you could do it: Barclays Bank on Kampala Road. On the other hand, throughout Kenya you can use a UK bank card in the machines there. You'll need to check it out. Speak to your bankAvoid taking travellers cheques. These are widely used in fraudulent activities and many places will not accept them. You might not be able to change up into local currency before you travel (you still can't buy Zambian Kwacha in the UK!) and might not get good exchange rates anyway.It's best to take cash, in such currencies as British Pounds, Euros or US Dollars. The US Dollar is the most widely accepted. Take how much you are going to need and an extra 100 to 200 for contingencies. A lot of people in Africa will instantly convert their prices to US dollars for foreigners anyway, and the dollar is especially useful if you are travelling outside major capital cities where the only foreign money banks will take will be the US Dollar. So, even if you're travelling with Pounds or Euros, its best to get a few US Dollars to be on the safe side. Another thing to take account of is that some countries had a lot of fake US bills distributed after the Iraq wars and may even refuse US Bills which are dated before 1999. So get US Bills which are dated 2000 and later if you are unsure.Keep your money safe. Don't put it all in the same place and don't put any in your suitcase. If you're out and about put some money in each pocket. Africans like stuffing it in their socks so you might want to put some there as well. Check if your hotel or accommodation has security for passports and money and use them if necessary. Bigger hotels will have a safe in the rooms.Travel InsuranceDon't ask. Just get it. On one trip to South Africa I was set fire to in a barbecue accident (DON'T light barbecues with petrol) and robbed at gunpoint in central Johannesburg a week later - they took everything including my passport. And I was travelling with a Xhosa local who carried a semi-automatic pistol everywhere we went. So get travel insurance. It's mostly sold under "World Wide" policies. You're worth it.Cultural AwarenessIf you are from the west or other rich country it's almost inevitable that local people will have certain perceptions of you. The most commonplace is that you are rich. If you're white it's even worse and they might assume you have a dollar tree growing in your garden. Remember a lot of these people are broke, in countries where social security is limited to running orphanages, and thousands of westerners have passed through throwing money away on silly projects or in expensive hotels. So, you're rich. Expect to be hassled and overcharged, and if you're travelling alone get a local to look after you. Taxi drivers are sometimes a good choice. On the positive side, most people will just ask for the price of a beer, which is about a dollar.But whatever you do don't be an ass with a big head and don't treat the locals like idiots. There will be lots you might not understand but there's no excuse for treating people with a lack of respect. Mind your language; swearing is often frowned upon in many African countries.VisaIn most cases you'll need a visa when travelling to an African country. These can be bought in advance at the relevant embassy or consulate in your home country, and often can be bought at the border when you arrive, although sometimes there are long queues which can be worrying if you've got a connecting flight. Visas can cost more than 65 dollars depending where you go, and generally you can pay in Euros, Pounds or Dollars. If in doubt, take dollars. If you want to be safe you might want to get your visa in advance, especially if your country has poor relations with the country you are visiting. Most visitor visas will be issued for up to three months, or the duration of your stay.Avoiding TroubleThere's a few of things you can do before and after you get into trouble.Information: Tell people where you are going and when you'll be back. If you're going for a long time then inform the embassy or consulate on your arrival of your stay in the country. Tell your friends or family back home where you'll be staying.Documents: Make two photocopies of your passport - the identity page, and if relevant, any visas you need. If it gets stolen then a photocopy is often good enough to prove who you are to get an emergency replacement. Leave one copy at home, and take another with you. If you have a driving licence take this also, as it can be considered evidence of identity if your passport goes missing.Mobile phones: get your phone unlocked - that's network unlocked - so any SIM card in the world will work in it. Buy a local SIM card when you get there - they are usually pay as you go, and cost about 10. Then SMS your family back home to give them your number there. They can use a cheap international call service to get hold of you if necessary. Get the emergency number for your local embassy or consulate on the phone so you can call your country representatives if necessary.Money: Western Union offices are all over the place in Africa. It's a growth industry. So if you get robbed or need money in a hurry, you can get someone in your home country to send it to you. They can SMS the details to you on your local phone number, but you'll need some ID to pick it up, and they may ask you a test question ("What's your dog called?", for example).Police: If you get into trouble with the police then stay calm. Sadly, a lot of police officers are very poorly paid and only too happy to take a bribe. If you've been really criminal then you are certainly in trouble so insist on your right to see your ambassador or consul. If it's something petty or something you've just been accused of for the hell of it, it will almost certainly be easier to pay whatever is needed to have the matter buried. HOWEVER WE ADVOCATE THAT YOU DO NOT BREAK THE LAW WHEREVER YOU GO, and you should know differing laws for where you go. For example, in a lot of African countries homosexuality is illegal. Information such as this is held in country reports that we discussed earlier.

Mexico Vacation Rentals and Holiday Homes

Mexico Vacation Rentals and Holiday Homes

With the beautiful Gulf Coast on one site and the Pacific Ocean on the other, with both ancient Aztec temples and gleaming modern buildings, Mexico is much more than just the United States' neighbor to the south.Today's Mexico is still a land of deserts and mountainous plateaus; the smoking volcano of Teotihuac?n near Mexico City is echoed by nearby pyramids all the way down to the tropical wonderland of the Yucat?n Peninsula. But it's also one of the most modern cities in the world. The poverty level in Mexico has been slashed by over a third during the last few years, and their burgeoning trades with other countries are quickly modernizing the country. It may not be long before its equal in stature with the United States.If you choose to go on a Mexico vacation, you're certain to find all the comforts you're used to at home. You don't have to worry about "drinking the water" today. Though the cities are crowded and traffic can not just foreign, but alien, culture has been exchanged between the U.S. and Mexico for so many years that you will find the people just different enough to be interesting. And while in some ways the U.S. seems tired of itself, Mexico is just the opposite: alive, young, vibrant, and filled with color.Besides, Mexico has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.Baja California: The Land's EndWith Cabo San Lucas and Tijuana, one would think that Baja California was developed out. But it is, surprisingly, viewed by most Mexicans in the same way Americans view Alaska: as a remote frontier, untamed and beautiful. But Baja is alien in many ways. It has beautiful expanses of desert walled in by harsh mountain. Lush semi-tropical areas dot the coast, and between them are hundreds of miles of untouched, undeveloped beach and coastline. In Laguna San Ignacio, tourists can view rare California Gray Whales when they migrate here to give birth and start raising their young.For those uninterested in ecotourism, many of Baja's populated and more secluded beaches are perfect for baking one's body to the perfect shade of brown, or to enjoy some of the excellent hotels in this area. Alternately, beach houses and vacation rentals are a great way to spend a quiet, secluded vacation in an undeniable tropical paradise.Cancun: The Night LifeBut your perfect Mexico vacation might be more along the lines of finding the perfect cantina to sit and listen to music while looking at the other beauties Mexico offers. Cancun is the perfect place. With its blue waters and white beaches during the day, it seems tame; but at night, it lights up with the energy and the vibrancy of a very new city; Cancun is only 25 years old, in contrast with the Mayan ruins just a little further inland on the Yucatan Peninsula. Whether you like looking at old stones or tanned bodies, Cancun has much to offer its visitors.There's much more to Mexico than its far northwest and far southeast. Thousands of miles lie between Cancun and Cabo, miles filled with adventure and fascination and glorious sights. But you'll never see it if you don't go.Rent holiday home or vacation rental in Mexico and enjoy your stay!

Travel To Prague: Get Bohemian

Travel To Prague: Get Bohemian

Prague is a the shining jewel of Central Europe, so well preserved it is seemingly frozen in time, and for part of the year that is literally true. Prague is the only major European city that managed to avoid bombardment during the World Wars, which provides for an enchanting and almost eerie 14th century feel when standing in the middle of Old Town Square. Travel to Prague to experience a society visibly layered with histories of occupations, transitions of avant-garde artistic and musical movements and, underneath it all, a firm commitment to everything Czech.See the City of 100 SpiresCatch a glimpse of why Prague earned this title by climbing to one of the many birds eye views of the citys gothic skyline. From Old Town Square, cross the famous, and miraculously still standing, 600-year old Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) and walk uphill past a number of interesting antique shops until you reach the beautiful 1,100-year old Prague Castle, the highest point in the city fortified by medieval walls and gargoyles. The enormous castle grounds have been the seat of the Czech government since the 9th century and include a number of museums and a beautiful cathedral. North from the city center is a giant set of stairs that scale an overgrown hillside. The very top is crowned with a gigantic swinging metronome in the former site of where a massive statue of Stalin once looked out over the people of Prague below. Joggers, skaters, picnickers and bikers enjoy the vast acres of Letn Park beyond. Petrn Hill to the southeast is a network of hiking trails and breathtaking lookout points of the magical city, particularly if captured at night. Crowning the hill, Petrn Tower is a replica of the Eiffel Tower constructed for the Prague exposition of 1891.An Expression of RepressionThe intense character and deep roots of Prague have been an inspiration to many culturally revolutionary figures and socially radical movements. Existentialism came to vibrant life in this Czech town, along with two of its most famous authors. Franz Kafka underwent his famous Metamorphosis is this city he called home and a fascinating statue has been recently erected in his honor near the Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. A stroll through Wenceslas Square is haunting of Milan Kunderas writings, particularly during one of the many exciting festivals held here that were formerly banned under Soviet rule. The square is even turned into an enormous oval track for a cycling race in the summer! Since 1989, music has once again flourished through the veins of the Czech Republic. Pragues National Theater is home to the prestigious philharmonic and opera, with regularly scheduled performances throughout the year.From the seat of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire to a Cold War lockdown and a modern day survival story, the Slavic inhabitants of this Vltava River Basin have been persevering their artful and traditional way of life since they arrived here in the 5th century. For a city that was under strict Soviet control for a solid 40 years, the timeless Gothic and Romanesque faades mixed with a string of cubist and modernist architecture seem to speak for the unbending will of the Czech people. Only a journey to Prague will reveal the steady beating heart of this effervescent city.For more information, visit http://www.cfares.com.

Amsterdam Tour

Amsterdam Tour

When we talk about Amsterdam, Netherlands, it is very hard not to imagine misty cafes and scantily clothed women moving provocatively in windows with red lights. Many of the travelers from across the world return to this ultimate city of sin because of these sights alone. Most of them are busting with tales of the unexpected and if you get chances to visit the place, Im sure that you will also create your own tales to tell.Well, Amsterdam is not just about sex and drugs; it has all the great things that Mother Earth has to offer. The Netherlands has in fact that most amount of great museums per square foot than anywhere else in the world. If you take a tram ride 10 minutes from the heart of the city, you can overwhelm yourself with those narrow streets occupied with nothing else other than the cyclist and a car every now and then. The city is in fact so quite, but interesting.Things to See in AmsterdamThe greatly planned city of Amsterdam is one of the few cities in the world where the people, the streets and the atmosphere are an attraction in themselves. It is in fact well-known throughout the world as the sole city where marijuana and hashish are sold legally. And, the worldly known Red Light District is just as much an attraction as a favorite hub for young men full of testosterone to go at night.But as mentioned earlier, there is far much more to the city than drugs and prostitutes or sex. The city has long been considered as the Venice of the North because it was built on a cobweb of canals. You can greatly see most of the city from a canal boat, and from there youll surely appreciate the unique architecture that Amsterdam has long been proud to offer.Furthermore, Amsterdam is heaving with a culture. It has a lot of great museums and libraries. Of all the interesting museums in the city of Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Museum and Van Gogh Museums are names not to be missed.Where to EatWhen you stroll around in the city of Amsterdam, youll surely find a high volume of restaurants. As commonly noted, you can see sandwich boards in front of the many restaurants advertising their daily specials and from a minute walk down the Damrak, the street facing Central Station, there are some neon lights saying pizza.If you delver further into the city, you can find the Damstraat, the street on Dam Square, also peppered with eateries. Further down again towards Leidseplen, the Leidsekruisstraat and Leidsetraat have their good share of restaurants too. It is necessary to note however that the streets mentioned earlier are located in some of the citys most touristy areas. So, if you wish to steer clear of such commercial centers, you have the chance to visit the Jordaan as some of the citys coolest restaurants are found there.In case you prefer to eat out in a restaurant beyond your budget during your tour, there are also some fast food outlets all over Amsterdam where you can get pizzas, chips or kebabs. However, just be careful when asking for mayonnaise on your French fries for they will be completely drowned.

Paris Off the Beaten Path: Try Small Museums

Small Paris museums offer you an alternative to the large venues when you wish to avoid the crowds there. See which museums to visit here.Fans of Klimt, Schiele & Co., I recently wanted to take a leisurely look at the Grand Palais blockbuster exhibition on Vienne 1900. I picked a weekday mid-afternoon, assuming I could whizz in and loiter through. Oops! I lined up before the entry (in freezing weather) for over an hour. And when I got a glimpse of the over-populated jostling going on inside, threw in the towel. If body-contact sport isnt your ideal for expo-visiting in Paris (or elsewhere), try small museums.Heres a sampling of Parisian fares in this vein, where - despite the displays intrinsic interest, and English documentation generally available - youre not likely to have your feet trampled or be elbowed in the ribs. Some are so tiny they arent mentioned in Bordas authoritative Guide des Muses de France. Lets begin by wandering down rue Antoine Bourdelle, 15e arrondissement (district) near the Gare Montparnasse. At no. 18 you cant not notice, through a grillwork fence, a garden hosting a bronze horse almost two storeys high. This is the Muse Bourdelle, former home and studio of the sculptor (1861-1929) for whom the street is named, and whose work - fittingly for a small museum? - was grandiose in intent and result. The style is somewhere between rough-hewn Rodin (with whom he collaborated for a while) and Art Dcos wind-swept streamlining. On view are samples of his inclination for antiquity and exoticism that range from statues of Sappho and Archer Heracles to a monumental portrayal of Polish national poet Mickiewicz and bas-reliefs of music, drama, etc. for the Thtre des Champs Elyses, inaugurated in 1913. It was inaugurated with a scandalous premiere of Stravinskys Rite of Spring, danced by a rather lightly clad Nijinsky. That year Bourdelle exhibited work at New Yorks landmark Armory Show.Address:18 rue Antoine BourdelleParis 15th districtOpen except Mondays and holidays 10 a.m.>6 p.m.Full entry: 4.50; youth: 2.20; under 14: free.Metro stations: Montparnasse, Falguire.Just around the corner is the diminutive Muse du Monparnasse recalling such Roaring-20s Montparnasse denizens as Hemingway, Picasso and Modigliani. It opened its doors in 1998 in a quaint paved street (Chemin du Montparnasse) which itself is worth the visit. The museum offers its visitors a treasure trove of photographs taken by such luminaries as Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and many watercolours and prints by Montparnasse artists. Address:21 avenue du MaineParis 15th districtOpen except Mondays and holidays 12:30 a.m.>7 p.m.Full entry: 5; reduced: 4; under 12: free; Metro station: MontparnasseStill closer to the Gare Montparnasse is the Muse de la Poste, an offshoot of the postal administration - and a good place to take the prettiest mail-woman in your neighborhood. Opened in 1973, its a museographical surprise: you take an elevator to floor five then spiral down, room-to-room, to the ground floor. Goodies along the way include: an articulated-arm Chappe semaphore (ca. 1800), part of a France-wide network enabling messages to come 10 km. station-to-station in clear weather from, say, Calais to Paris in just over an hour until France imported Samuel Morses system in 1856; a lovely 1900 ceramic post office counter; and an explanation of Paris pneumatique system that, 1866>1984, air-propelled correspondence via underground tubes at a speed of up to 700 meters a minute.Address:34 boulevard VaugirardParis 15th districtOpen except Mondays and holidays 10 a.m.>6 p.m.Full entry: 5; reduced: 3.50; under 18 and mailmen/women: free; Metro station: Montparnasse.And now, for gruesomely comic (?) relief : Paris Crime Museum a.k.a. Muse des Collections Historiques de la Prfecture de Police. Can you imagine what early handcuffs looked - and felt - like ? Ouch ! Theyre there. As are: a genuine guillotine blade, perhaps used on the murderer of a nearby victims punctured skull, and stark temporary exhibits. A recent one of these documented oh-so-graphically the trials and tribulations of bagnards - forced-labor convicts transported to hellish camps in e.g. New Caledonia and French Guyana as late as 1953. Among them was the escapee-author of 1970s U.S. best-seller Papillon.Address:4 rue de la Montagne Sainte GeneviveParis 5th district Open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.>5 p.m.Free entry (except for executed criminals) Metro station: Maubert-Mutualit For wine buffs I can think of no place better than the Muse du Vin (Wine Museum). It opened its doors in 1984, and hunkers in 13th century quarries reconverted in the 16th-17th centuries by monks to store their wine (grapes grew abundantly on the Passy slopes, now facing the Eiffel Tower). Ranging through time from Roman domination, and signposted by mini-Bacchus figures, displays include viticulturists tools, a barrel-makers workshop, and vessels for testing, storing, transporting and consuming the beverage. The visit ends with... wine-tasting. You can also lunch there.Thermal springs once flowed here, so the Wine Museum is on... rue des Eaux: Water Street!Address: Rue des Eaux - 5, square Charles Dickens - Paris 16th districtOpen Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m.>6 p.m.Entry: 8 (includes that glass)Metro station: Passy(This article is a collaborative between Phil Chavanne, Senior Editor, and Arthur Gilette, a regular contributor to www.Paris-Eiffel-Tower-News.com. Both are more than happy to share their in-depth knowledge of Paris.)

Booking Your Las Vegas Reservations

Booking Your Las Vegas Reservations Las Vegas reservations are easy to book on the web. Youll have no problem finding the location that you want when you use the web to help you. But, there are some things that youll need to do in order to get the best of the best in options. Is there a better time to visit Las Vegas? Reservations are available and they are some of the hottest ones going! What do you need to do to book your Las Vegas Reservations? Here are some hints and tips that you need to consider.First of all, consider the budget that you have. If you have a budget to work off of, youll find options easier to compare.What are you looking for? Youll need a hotel and show tickets, but will you also need to book reservations for airline tickets as well as car rentals?If you are looking for a package deal, look early. Youll find more available and lower prices calling your name as well. All it takes is a few minutes to get the planning started so start as soon as you can!You can and should browse through the selection of reservations available on the web. Take a few minutes to compare prices and to find who has the best rates. Various airlines will offer better prices than others, yet some of the larger companies may offer a great airline and hotel package that saves you quite a bit of money. So, consider all of your options.We can not stress enough the importance of taking the time to book your Las Vegas reservations on the web. Truly, this is so important because it helps you to get the best price on top of everything else. You have so much to choose from and the best availalability as well. So, as you can see, there are many reasons to book your Las Vegas reservations right here, on the web!

Summary

Travelling to Africa for the First Time? Going it alone? This article has some things you need to know. What to do, what not to do, and how to avoid trouble if trouble comes looking for you.