Madrid's El Rastro is a Paradise For Bargain Shoppers

Do you want to go for some serious bargain shopping on your vacation in Madrid? Look no further than El Rastro!

Set your alarm for 09:00 on a Sunday morning and head off to the Rastro flea market. Yes, it may be crazy to get up this early in the weekends, but for the thousands of people who wake up early to head to what is arguably the coolest flea market in the world, it's nothing more than typical Sunday behavior in Madrid. If you are there early you can get the chance to pick up the best bargains.

The Rastro is the largest flea market in Spain, and gets going every Sunday from 9 am to 3 pm, all year long. Looking for leather goods like bags and coats? They got it. Want to buy paintings or art? It's there. Small, not very useful plastic souvenirs? Clothing? It's all here. More in the mood for furniture? Music? Antiques? You've come to the right place. You can find just about anything, used and new, cheap and cheaper at the Rastro. Haggle that vendor down from his starting price and walk away with a bargain or two at any of the 3,500 stalls.

Indubitably, after all that shopping you'll have worked up a great hunger and thirst. You are well catered for. The bars that line the Rastro overflow on Sundays as the market shoppers pop in for beers and snacks which often include such delicacies as paella, olives, sardines and calamari.

How to get there? Take the metro to La Latina or to Puerta de Toledo (Metro line 5) and you will find yourself in the center of it all.

More about El Rastro, Spain's largest flea market, including shopping tips can be found at Dirt Cheap Madrid [http://www.dirtcheapmadrid.com/].

Prague, Czech Republic - Its History Is the Basis of Its Culture

Of the great cities in Europe I've had a chance to visit; one that I would most highly recommend is Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. It has warm summers and chilly, but not extremely cold winters, and in 2011 was the sixth most visited city in Europe. The Vltava River is the city's focal point, and the main attractions are its history and culture, having ten major museums, theaters and historical exhibits. Fortunately much of the old architecture has survived the destruction of Europe during the last century.

Being a major city in Eastern Europe, it has been at the center of history in that region for 1000 years. At that point it became a center of trade for Europe, and with the wealth that trade brings it became a seat of power for what would become the Kingdom of Bohemia. A large Jewish community was established, and the Old New synagogue, constructed in 1270 still stands.

Over the centuries Prague has had its ups and downs. The city flourished under the King of Bohemia Charles IV, who ruled from 1346-1378. Much of the architecture you will see in the city comes from this time, such as Charles University (the oldest university in Central Europe), the Charles Bridge (the important thoroughfare connecting the right bank district to the castle area), the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, and New Town (which is a charming district adjacent to Old Town). During this time Prague was the third largest city in Europe, with only Rome and Constantinople larger.

Following Charles death the city experienced about 200 years of turmoil, caused mostly by differences caused by religious beliefs and religious persecutions. Things settled down under Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, who was elected King of Bohemia in 1576 and took up residence in the Prague Castle. Rudolf was a forward thinker and a lover of art, and Prague became the cultural capital of Europe. The year 1618 marked the beginning of another turbulent time in Prague, as the devastating Thirty Years' War was fought especially in the first seven years in Bohemia. Plague and famine caused by the war sent the population of Prague to plummet.

Prague was to recover later in the 17th century, and by the mid-1800s factories spurred by the Industrial Revolution were to give it another revival period. Both World Wars I and II were too deeply affect the city, as was communism in the last half of the 10th Century.

As we can see, Prague has had a volatile history, and I devote most of this piece to its past. That is because much of what you will see there has a historical backdrop, and to really appreciate this great city is to have a grasp of what Prague has experienced in the last 700 years. When you visit, for me a great dining experience was eating the local food and drinking the local beer. They are both truly outstanding. There are literally hundreds of bars and pubs, and the local food we thought was more Slovak with some German characteristics. As with most tourist cities, go to the out-of-the-way places (the locals will point you in the right direction) and stay away from the touristy spots.

Prague is really an interesting city with history old and new. Check out our website http://bestvacationeurope.com/ for information on other great cities in Europe, and for ways to navigate your way around Europe by train. Glen Wheaton is a writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe.

Backup and Recovery Pays Off in the Long Run

People these days have the tendency not to think more than one step ahead. A lot of companies plan without taking into consideration internal factors that could lead to their bankruptcy. One little thing that could stand between your company and becoming completely erased from the names of the top competitor is in one word - information. The information that your company stores and has collected is the most powerful thing that your company has. It is therefore very important that the safety of your information become a priority and it is then that backup and recovery pay off in the long run.

Backup and recovery come hand in hand with each other. Backup is when multiple copies of the same exact data are made and are put into physical, virtual or both kinds of storage data devices or systems. This allows assurance that should you lose the file once, you have multiple copies scattered around in your system and so you never have to fear losing it ever again. Backup is the reserve form of the information that you already have, should something disastrous go wrong in your technical software.

Recovery comes when you need the files back for some reason. It could be the most serious reason, such as a powerful new computer virus that acts silently in the system or it could be the smallest reason like an accidental press of the permanently delete button. Recovery retrieves the backed up data that you had previously saved in a data storage device and allows you to regain the ones that you had previously lost. Things like these could prove quite handy, seeing that files could get deleted or misplaced so easily at any point in time. The need might not necessarily show itself immediately but with the fast paced world of technology today, anything is possible.

There might come a time when you would wish you did not delete those files or you would wonder where certain important documents from years ago had gone. The benefit of backup and recovery do not necessarily come post haste but they do come when the service is needed. Do not be fooled and get caught up in your own capabilities or the defenses that your company has right now. There is no harm in remaining cautious and thinking about all the bad things that could happen. It is perfectly fine to hope for the best but it is always an intelligent decision to prepare for the worst.

It is imperative to realize the importance that backup and recovery plays in the continuity and reliability of day to day operations.

How to Cut Down Your Electricity Bills

It seems to me that those dreaded little brown envelopes drop through the letterbox all to frequently these days. I seem to pay one electricity bill, and then feel on top of things having paid it off, and get that nice warm feeling of satisfaction. In a strange way it is a happy moment when I feel confident that although long hours at work are a real drudge, finally I am on top of my finances, sound familiar to you?

Somehow, even though most of us loath paying our bills, it is a plain and simple fact that they do have to be paid. Problem is of course that before you know it, another bills arrives, and quite simply spoils the whole feeling of satisfaction yet again.

What can you and I do about it?

You may be surprised to learn that a survey by cashback website Quidco, has found that one in three British consumers have stopped using price comparison sites, with a further 47% put off by 'biased' results. One consumer, reported that having changed to a recommended cheaper Utility Supplier, that when she checked again that same day, she was recommend to change back to her original supplier!

Consumers are reportedly concerned that results on the sites are displayed according to which company pays the most for their listings.

So in plain terms, this means that consumers like you and me, cannot rely on results from some comparison sites, simply because they might recommend that you switch to the Company that pays them the highest introductory commission!

So what can you rely on?

I have done considerable research online and offline, and discovered one Utility Company that makes a very bold statement indeed, "We Guarantee to be cheaper than everyone else" and they go on to state furthermore that if the competition should alter their prices, they will to, so that you can automatically be certain that you are on the cheapest tariffs!

They do not spend money on advertising their services, and simply pass these massive savings onto you and me, by word of mouth, and personal recommendations.

To find out more visit www.localdiscountguide.com/utilities.html

Rick Holland

Telephone 08450 568 966

The 3 Worst Tourist Traps in Madrid

Yes, Madrid is one of the greatest cities in the world, but like any other place, it of course has its flaws. But, if you are smart and research in advance you can avoid getting disappointed when you visit the Spanish capital. I have written a bit about a few tourist pitfalls in Madrid so you can avoid doing the same mistake as so many tourists have done in the past. Check out the tips below and don't fall into the same tourist traps as other tourists.

1. Don't eat or drink on any of the restaurants in Plaza Mayor.

When you're taking in the attractive Plaza Mayor, you might feel thirsty. You may feel hungry. You may be tempted to order some tapas and ice cold cerveza (beer) on one of the many restaurants and cafes lining the plaza. Please try to resist the urge! The prices are extremely inflated and the quality is so-so. A coffee for an arm and a leg? Paella in exchange for your lung? It's no good for any traveller who appreciates value for money. The restaurants around Plaza Mayor is the perfect place to practice your "No, gracias"!

2. Do not go to Madrid's Amusement Park and/or Warner Brother's Park

Thrill-seeker are ya? Looking for the rush of the wind in your hair and a roller coaster throwing you upside down at record speeds? Go to Six Flags when you get home. Madrid still has lots to learn when it comes to amusement parks, and these options are not only disappointing, they're fantastically overpriced. Basically you will end up paying through the nose for something very sub-adequate. Be smart, save your money, and stay away.

3. Don't tip

Yes, you may be used to tipping where you are from. But in Spain there are other customs. You are not, I repeat, NOT expected to tip in Spain as you would in the USA. There is no "15 to 20%" on your bill. Yes, they still get a good wage even if you do not tip them! However, it is customary to leave/give some spare change, a few 10 cent coins at most, in restaurants and to taxi drivers. If you've really enjoyed the service, or someone has been particularly great, you can give him or her more, but the maximum would be a euro, and even that might be considered excessive.

That's it. If you can avoid these tourist traps your trip to Madrid has already improved its chances of being a success.

About I'm Ken Sand and I love living in Madrid. You can read about the worst tourist traps of Madrid at my Dirt Cheap Madrid Travel Guide [http://www.dirtcheapmadrid.com].

A Walk to Remember in Prague

After my tour of the Jewish Quarter in Prague, I was led by Jirka, our local tour guide, to a walk around the rest of the district, to see the Rudolfinum, the old arcades that are now home to luxury shops and fancy restaurants. He pointed out some interesting factoids here and there - like how most of the cobblestones are in fact centuries-old, although resetting is a daily affair.

I must say Prague is a perfect place for walking tours, as long as you have a cap (or a wide-brimmed hat for the ladies), sunglasses, and sunscreen. All traditions of architecture have examples here, and they survived the wars because the city was a little far from where the action was. Beautiful Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classical buildings with red-tiled roofs truly make for a very pleasant view.

The height of my walking tour is the Prague Castle, which is a huge complex built on an elevated part of the city - a hilltop, actually. You see, it is the center of political, religious, and social activities. The castle has both the charm and weight of a truly old structure, one where the Bohemian monarchs of centuries past lived. There is also a moat, gardens, and of course, thick, thick walls that were always important among warring leaders.

Today, the complex draws hundreds of thousands of tourists raring to have a glimpse of such edifices as the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica of St. George, the Royal Garden, and the Golden Lane. The latter is a row of small houses, including one where the famous Czech novelist Franz Kafka stayed. Souvenirs are being sold here, too.

But my favorite is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which is also the seat of Prague's archbishop, whose construction began in 1344. The ornate details on the facade, ceiling, the altar, and the stained glass windows were truly breathtaking! Even adding to its appeal is how the different parts do not match, because it was built over 500 years. Some are Gothic, some are neo-Gothic. And the guide said that if I had more time and if I were so inclined, I should have signed up for climbing up the Cathedral Tower, for a view of Prague. But I believe I got it anyway on my way down, when I stopped for some beer at the Letna Beer Garden.

A tall glass of beer in spring, atop a hill in Prague - it was a great day!

For more about my Prague trip, visit my blog Richard Kimball Jr's Travel Blog.

The Most Glamorous Valentine's Menu of All Time!

When it comes to serving luxury Valentine's Day meals, you'd naturally expect to find many first class recipes on a restaurant's menu. But the bar for quality in the world of fine dining has just been lifted right out of sight thanks to Michelin star chef Adam Simmonds who has devised an eight-course menu on behalf of GreatBritishChefs.com. He describes the menu as the ultimate "no expense spared" luxury dining experience. In total the meals cost a whopping £61.000. But what could possibly comprise such a meal?

The menu

This meal boasts £3.000 pounds worth of almus white caviar, a range of delicious South Sea oysters, including pearls priced at £6,000, and a large amount of edible gold leaf totalling £2,000.

The menu also boasts a range of other delights such as Bluefin tuna, although this is a controversial decision for Simmonds to make as many wildlife campaigners assert that Bluefin are nearing extinction. However, Simmonds has prepared another course in case of diners' objections, which contains Pickled Mackerel, Cucumber, Horseradish and Charcoal.

These may sound like pretty random ingredient for a chef to just throw together on a menu, but Simmonds has actually rather cleverly chosen a nobler of foods that are known to be effective aphrodisiacs with qualities similar to that of Viagra. Guaranteed to make Valentines a day more loved up!

But wait, there's more!

The menu also boasts all kinds of other rare and expensive delicacies, such as confit foie gras, smoked eel, rissotto with carbineros prawns, saffron, silver leaf and caviar roe.

Just to make things even more interesting, the desert menu contains gourmet vanilla and smoked chocolate with kopi luwak ice cream, providing a delicious finale to a truly exquisite meal.

Simmonds has claimed: 'Each dish has been created with romance in mind and to allow the spectacular ingredients to work their magic, in both creating delicious food and the perfect mood for romance.'

And to drink..?

If the food sounds luxurious, wait until you see the range of drinks on offer! First class wines and champagnes including a £17,000 bottle of La Romanee-Conti wine, and a £3.000 bottle of 1976 Salon Blanc de Blancs. In total the wine list costs a huge £30,700.

Creating the atmosphere

A Valentine's Day meal is not just about the food and drink though, it's just as much about the setting and atmosphere. Restaurants serving' menu also plan to cater for couples by supplying a range of romantic dining ideas which include covering dinner tables in rose petals, lighting rose scented candles, and providing romantic live harp music.

Any Valentine's Day meal should be an exquisite dining experience, but this menu is surely the one by which all others should be compared.

If you want to enjoy a delicious Valentine's Day meal of your own, visit CaspianCaviar.co.uk where you'll find a range of fine caviar, including wasabi caviar.

The Coffee Cake Magic

Historians says that coffee cake was not discovered by the pastry chef long era a ago but it evolve around that, firstly the tasty cake of honey was made by French which in sense encouraged fruit cakes , then later it was made in sweet yeast rolls made by Danish cakes which have coffee in it. Later on the cakes were manufactured in mass and become very common in the world, now it's available in ant corner of the world.
America brought recipes

The concept of a coffee cake it was in earlier years was only simple overwhelming several sweet kind of cake just like having a cup of coffee; it started in Europe around the seventeenth century. historians says that before in Europe they were famous for having bread in the morning but when the coffee was introduce there the scene was changed, and they made very good combination of coffee with the bread. Historians also says that in German as well as Dutch they introduce various type of recipes and made different combustions with the coffee after that it was launch in America the coffee cake.

Mostly people believe that before the coffee cake were tasted much like bread than a cake. They were made of some sugar, yeast, flour, nuts, sweet spices, some eggs and dried fruits. In recent times in America the cake was made more delicious than before by adding yogurt, cheese, and variety of creams and a mixture of sugared fruits.

Holland and German communities

The Holland and the German community were well-known in New Jersey, New York and Delaware for their coffee cakes in the past days. Their way of making cake is similar to today's time, they is no difference in the recipes. Scandinavians were very good in coffee making and they wanted little bit of sweets with the coffee and that is how the world's famous and tasty cakes were introduced. The Scandinavians become very proud of their creation of tasty cakes and than made more range of pastries and cake and gave to people who came from Central Europe to America.

In the records of the America, the writer says that in the year 1879 coffee cake turn out to be very famous in America. Historians have done research by seeing the old cookery books of previous time and found that cake recipes for making coffee cake were publish in all the books of cooking and each every one in America started making coffee cake later in the eighteen hundreds. There is lot of variety of cakes and the most of the famous varieties are streusel variation, crumb cake and the streusel version. So You have got lots of Information About Coffee Cake.

Carl Esonhouse's web pages are published on a lot of web sites with reference to coffee and cappuccino machines and types of cappuccino. Working on his detailed publications, the columnist showed his capability on subjects associated with home cappuccino machines.

People Try Everything to Get Perfect Hot Coffee

Coffee! This popular beverage is available in numerous flavors and fashions. Coffee is made by saturating ground-up dried beans in piping hot water. In spite of the Herculean efforts by countless companies for many drinks of diverse temperatures, hot coffee remains the number one choice of most drinkers for all main meal times during the day, and while driving in their vehicle. This hot beverage appears to be the most popular beverage in the world. Some folks take some amazing steps to make certain that their beverage is just right. Given the excitement over iced coffee, the majority of coffee lovers demand hot coffee. Surprisingly there are a few menus where chilled mugs with iced coffee has made a restaurant showing.

However, the overall population of coffee lovers drinks it at 160-degrees. There are numerous products on the market, which enable you to coax the best flavor out of coffee grounds. People try everything to get perfect hot coffee, from buying home roasters and graters to complex systems.

Many enthusiasts insist that the degree temperature of the coffee must just reach boiling point is at 212 degrees F. At this point, the water will soak the grounds over a specified time. This will bring the coffee to optimal flavor. For some others, the actual creation of the coffee matters more than the actual imbibing of the beverage. A few of these aficionados prefer to change the flavor of the coffee with whitener and sweetener. To them how the coffee tastes from the pot is irrelevant.

There are companies out there inventing an auto-stirring unit for your hot beverage. This will help those of you who especially require the addition of extra condiments such as cream or sugar. If you Google the words 'coffee cup stir' on the Internet you'll find many units being described and offered for sale, some from big name manufacturers.

Danger Lurks In a Cup of Hot Beverage Some people have discovered difficult lessons regarding the dangers of steaming coffee. It is true that the liquid is likely not boiling as they try to drink it, yet the temperature may be hot enough to hurt your lips or skin. Don't try to swallow the hot coffee, because it's still very hot.

Numerous folks certainly appreciate the taste of a hot coffee but will (for some reason) drop in an ice cube to bring the temperature down to palatable feel taking a drink. Countless others favor letting their hot beverage cool physically as they gently sip.

Reducing the hotness of the coffee in the cup is the most certain way to be able to gently drink the hot beverage. This can be done by letting it sit. Cups or mugs with wider mouths chill it faster due to a great exposed to air. Mugs with narrower mouths take longer to chill the coffee for the opposite reason.

The author Charles Etungen is particularly interested in information associated with home espresso machines. His contributions on how to make expresso can be discovered on his webpage and also other online publications.

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