Monthly Archives September 2014

LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS, OH MY!

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t all began with a quick white flash and a slight move­ment in the bushes off to my right. A few seconds later I was able to make out a couple of amorphous shapes. Just as I was about to query our guide, Sherry slammed on the brakes of our safari vehicle. With a thunderous roar, a herd of animals ran across the road in front of us and bounded up the adjacent hill. In a few seconds they were gone. “Thompson’s Gazelles,” quipped Sherry “Aren’t they beautiful?”

Although this may be a common sight in Africa, we weren’t exactly in the wilds of the Dark Continent. In fact we were just an hour from San

Francisco, at a unique wildlife sanctuary that offers visitors an accessible and

intimate taste of Africa.

The brainchild of Peter Lang, Safari West is a wildlife sanctuary w...

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Handling Money

A traveler’s check and the local American Express or Thomas Cook office used to be your only means of obtaining local currency abroad. Nowadays, however, traveler’s checks are the dinosaurs of European travel. ATM cards and credit-card cash advances are much cheaper and easier. The inconvenience of waiting in line at banks or exchange booths, digging your passport out of your money belt, and getting charged sometimes high commissions has led most frequent travelers to abandon traveler’s checks in favor of a trip to a street-corner ATM.

Using your ATM card

In Europe, your bank card was useless plastic about a decade ago. These days, however, you can saunter up to an ATM in virtually any city or small town and retrieve local cash, just as you would in the United States...

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Eating

Many of Tallinn’s ever-expanding array of restaurants serve high-quality food. International cuisines, particularly French, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Indian, are increasingly popular; most other establishments feature the solid meat-and-potatoes common to many north European countries. The Old Town’s more expensive restaurants pull this off with panache, usually offering a number of global dishes in addition. In the more modest places, however, the pork chop still rules the roost.

As you’d expect, restaurants are more expensive in Tallinn than elsewhere in the country — you’ll rarely pay less than €8 for a main course...

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Florida Keys Kayak & Sail

Offers backcountry tours, botanical- preserve tours of Lignumvitae Key, historic-site tours of Indian Key, and sunset tours through the mangrove tunnels and saltwater flats. At Rob­bie’s Pier, U. S. 1 at MM 75.5, Islamo­rada. У 305/664-4878. www. floridakeyskayakandski. com. Tours $39-$49; single kayak rentals $15 per hour-$45 per day, double kayak $20 per hour-$60 per day.

Hall’s Dive Center and Career Institute. Snorkelers and divers can dive at Looe Key, Sombrero Reef, Delta Shoal, Content Key, or Coffins Patch. You’ll spend, hour at each of two sites per tour. U. S. 1 at

Check out the tarpons at Robbie’s Pier.

Best of the Outdoors

MM 48.5, Marathon. У 305/743­5929. www. hallsdiving. com...

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THE LAY OF THE LAND

Outside the major tourist destinations, your options get very limited very fast. In fact, many beach destinations are so remote that you have no choice but to eat in the hotel’s dining room. Even on the more accessible beaches, the only choices aside from the hotel dining rooms are often cheap local places or overpriced tourist traps serving indifferent meals. At remote jungle lodges, the food is usually served buffet or family style and can range from bland to inspired, depending on

El Salvador is the only country in Central America with no Atlantic coast, tucked as it is beneath Guatemala and Honduras. At

21,0 sq. km (8,108 sq. miles), it is also the smallest country in the region, roughly the size of New Jersey and is somewhat dwarfed by its neighbors...

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MOSCOW AT A GLANCE

More than 100 places of inter­est are described in the Area by Area section of this book. These range from the historic treasures of State and Church, enclosed within the Kremlin walls, to galleries housing incomparable religious icons among spectacular collections of Russian and Western art. The city’s liveliest streets and most beautiful parks, which offer different attractions in winter and sum-

MOSCOW TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

See pp78-81.

MOSCOW AT A GLANCE

Kuskovo

See pp142-3.

mer, are also included. To help make the most of a visit, the next 12 pages offer a guide to the very best that Moscow has to offer. Museums and architecture each have their own sec­tion, and there is a special feature on Moscow’s grandiose metro stations...

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The Estonian History Museum

The Maarjamae Palace (Maarjamae loss), a neo-Gothic residence built for an aide of the Tsar, Count Anatoli Orlov-Davidov, in 1873, was long considered a beauty spot on account of its position overlooking Tallinn Bay. Today it houses the Estonian History Museum (Eesti ajaloomuuseum; Wed—Sun: March—Oct 11am—6pm; Nov—Feb 10am— 5pm; €3; W www. eam. ee), which covers the nation’s past from the late nineteenth century onwards. The text-heavy display is intended for Estonian visitors, but many of the exhibits speak for themselves — from grainy photographs of the Estonian volunteers who battled Bolsheviks, White Russians and Germans in the aftermath of World War I, to pictures of the “Forest Brothers”, Estonian partisans who fought Soviet occupation into the 1950s...

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THE BEST CATHEDRALS & CHURCHES

Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Hol­land): An extensive collection of van Gogh’s work is here: 200 paintings and 500 drawings, ranging from the famous Sunflowers to earless self-portraits. The permanent collection includes impor­tant works by van Gogh’s 19th-century contemporaries, and frequent tempo­rary or visiting exhibits concentrate on the same period. See p. 299.

Mauritshuis (The Hague, Holland): An intimate museum set in the 17th – century palace of a Dutch count, it contains a small but impressive collec­tion of Golden Age art treasures. See p. 356.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

(Rotterdam, Holland): This eclectic museum features a range of art forms, from visual to applied arts, covering a period of over 7 centuries...

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Keeping a Lid on Hidden Expenses

No matter how carefully you plan a budget, it seems like you always end ■ffn up shelling out for expenses that you didn’t expect. The following is a wky list of common (yet completely avoidable) travel expenses, and ways to keep them from putting a dent in your vacation fund:

і Find out what your rental covers. When shopping for car rentals, always make sure you know what the quoted rate includes — and excludes. Some charges the rental agent may or may not mention to you are: airport pickup/drop-off surcharge, drop-off fee for rent­ing in one city and dropping off in another, CDW (collision damage waiver), local taxes, mileage (limited or unlimited?), and a tank of gas. See Chapter 7 for more information.

i Ask whether taxes are included...

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HOSTELING

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f you’re looking to reign in your lodging expenses and save a few bucks on your next trip, then consider stay­ing in a hostel. This unique lodging option first gained popularity in the 1970s when college students backpacked across Europe and frequented easy-on-the-budget youth hostels. Today the whole hostelling industry has evolved, and, although hostels still present a very affordable option for young people, they are open to travelers of all ages.

There are many advantages to hostelling. The major perk is big savings on lodging costs. Rates vary depending on the location and the amenities of the property, so expect to pay more in the larger cities and less in the country. Another advantage to hostelling is that you can meet other travelers...

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