Germany Travel Tip - The English Garden In Munich

The Englische Garten or English Garden is a large urban public park that stretches from the city center to the northeastern city limits of Munich, Bavaria. With an area covering 3.7 square kilometers the English Garden is one of the world's largest urban Public Parks. One of the most famous Beer Gardens of Munich is located in the English Garden at the Chinese Tower, which was built during the years 1789 - 1790. Another very popular Beer Garden is the Seehaus, Lake House. It is beautifully situated next to the big lake, the Kleinhesselohe See, in about 1 km distance to the Chinese Tower, also in the English Garden. Why not rent a pedal boat to discover the Lake Kleinhesselohe?
Since 1789 Munich, in Bavaria, owns his English Garden, a green oasis in the heart of the city. Munich owes the English Garden to an American, Benjamin Thompson. He was a Bavarian minister of war and a social reformer. What a combination! Originally the northern marshy land of the River Isar was intended as a military garden; invested by the gardener Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell. However, the thought of a national park was soon realized. Agricultural use and education was given to the people in the park. Thus model farms, tree schools, a sheep farm and an agriculture school were founded. In 1989 the English Garden celebrated his 200 year old existence with a spectacular cultural program. The English Garden has retained its natural beauty and romantic wildness as a garden for the citizens.

One of the most famous and popular Beer Gardens of Munich is located right in the heart of the English Garden, around the Chinese Tower or Pagoda. This is also the most colorful Beer Garden and has a lot to offer for ones eyes and ears. Often you will hear the sounds of a Brass band playing live from the first floor of the Chinese Tower. As soon as the warm sunbeams appear, local folks will enjoy their first Maß beer of the season. (In Bavaria it is common to order beer by a Maß and this means a liter!) As it gets warmer, more and more visitors from the nearby university, locals and international guests will enjoy the weather, companionship, the great local food and off course dive into the ancient tradition of the Bavarian beer drinking style.
Take a walk to the nearby Kleinhesselohe See, a large lake and the next, beautiful Beer Garden with the name Seehaus, Lake House, awaits you here. In the old days, the gardener and investor Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell enlarged this lake and a small Beer Garden, as the forerunner of the current one, was established on the edge of it. Today, after restructuring, it can host up to 2,500 guests and is an all year round popular place to see and to be seen. Especially on the weekends you should come early, if you want a prime seat at the lake side and intend to stay a couple of hours. Overall it is the bit younger crowd that prefers this Beer Garden and families will enjoy sun-bathing, paddling on the lake, or feed the swans and let the children play with the corsair in the backside of the garden. This is also the first address in winter during foehn periods, where all the seats at the lake might be taken although the lake still carries ice. In summer you might like to sit in the shady backside of the Beer Garden or come later in the evening, after exploring the beauty and tranquility of the English Garden.

This is an example of what you can do in Munich while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Munich we compiled a more comprehensive Munich travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during you Germany vacation.

This article has been written by Monika Petra. She likes to write Germany related travel articles on Live Like a German - a site for exploring Germany, to learn more about its culture / language, and to find great Germany vacation rentals or holiday apartments when going on a Germany vacation.

Scandinavia Attractions

Scandinavia denotes the countries within the northern European peninsula, namely Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. These nations have similar cultural characteristics, and they even have flags and languages that are much alike. Collectively, they are likewise termed the Nordic countries.

A tour of Scandinavia is liable to afford a single using a splendid view of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. That is a beautiful pure phenomenon in which the sky looks like a surreal, multi-colored curtain of lights. It normally happens in the months of March, April, September and October.

But if a single isn't lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights, you will discover tons of other, less ephemeral attractions that Scandinavia delivers. The hot springs of Iceland, the fjords of Norway, the mountain ski resorts of Sweden are a just few of those attractions. There too are numerous stunning sights: parks, castle ruins, cathedrals, gardens and museums. Different activities like skiing, hiking and participating in Scandinavian festivals are very fashionable and pleasant.

Also worth mentioning is the one other healthy phenomenon distinctive in the area: the midnight sun. This is seen throughout the endless summer days in the northernmost regions, particularly Norway.

Norway, the "Land from the Vikings", is an archipelago popular for its deep fjords (extended thin inlet with steep sides) and wooden churches. Its funds is Oslo, in which one can visit the well known Akershus castle and fortress, many museums and botanical gardens.

With the Scandinavian countries, Denmark may be the smallest and most southernmost. A lot of Denmark is low and flat, with some hilly areas. The country comprises of the Jutland peninsula and much more than 400 islands. It is in addition encompasses the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Notable sights in Denmark are its windmills and conventional conventional thatched cottages, scattered across the nation.

Sweden is the largest Scandinavian state, both territorially and in terms of population. Like Norway, it also consists of a several islands. The funds is Stockholm, which boasts of a charming medieval town referred to as Gamla Stan, and an open-air museum/park termed Skansen. Sweden has a few mountains, lakes and ski resorts.

A trip around Scandinavia can ideally begin in Copenhagen, Denmark, this being one of the most accessible point and also the southernmost. Copenhagen is a pleasant town, the cash and cultural center of Denmark. It has a pleasant style park called the Tivoli Gardens. Christiania, an distinct "free city" within Copenhagen, is in addition worth a pay a visit to.

Just one can then proceed to the Swedish cash of Stockholm, preferably by train. Then the next stop would be Oslo, Norway. Its many museums are interesting, such as the Kon-Tiki Museum and the Viking Ship Museum. One particular must also remember to stop by the City Hall, noteworthy as the venue for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.

After Oslo, go to Bergen, a scenic coastal town that's Norway's second biggest city. Bergen is lauded as a European Town of Culture in 2000, along with a Entire world Heritage Town. Despite its size, Bergen is really a strolling town having a rural really feel.

Then a single can take a trip to Helsinki, Finland via ferry from Stockholm. Helsinki can be a contemporary harbor town, with many enjoyable parks and churches.

If you enjoy traveling and would like to read more on some of the most famous places in the world, visit and also check out things to do in Scandinavia.

How to Spend One Day of Shopping in Barcelona

Shopping in Barcelona is a favorite pastime. Whether strolling along the elegant Paseo de Gracia or nipping in and out of trendy botiques in the Born, to go shopping here can be one of many things. Here you will find beautiful clothing, unique footwear, and interesting artwork as a herald to the city's cultural and artistic demographic. Not only do the Spanish have an impeccable eye for style, but they are beautiful craftsmen as well. Thus, there are endless options for every taste. From designer purses to handmade scarves, antique books to original Picassos, this city by the sea does seem to have it all. The mission then, is to go out and find it! But, if you have limited time while visiting the beautiful city, then you need to know where to go to get your shopping fix. The best option for a time-stressed traveller who wants to do some shopping in Barcelona, is to head straight to the shops around Plaza Catalunya.

The Plaza Catalunya serves as a great starting point for many outings, and most certainly for a day of shopping. From here, along the many streets that sprawl out from the square like spider's legs, you can do your shopping for shoes, clothes, and accessories at many of the country's national brands. Stores like Zara, Bershka, Mango, and Blanco all offer good essential finds at very reasonable prices. The main avenue of the Ramblas, the Ronda Universitat, and the Puerta del Angel are all main thoroughfares for fashion-finders. Of course if you'd rather get your exercise in the mountains, the mega department store El Corte Ingles can be found in the very Plaza Catalunya and requires no more than hopping on the escalator to explore its 7 floors of goods.

Dirt Cheap Barcelona [] is a budget travel guide with decent advice for budget travellers. The site contains a massive guide to Barcelona shopping.

Germany Travel Tip - Passion Play In Oberammergau

From the 15th of May until the 3rd of October 2010 the eyes of the world will once again focus on Oberammergau, the small town in the Ammengauer Alps, Upper Bavaria. The preparation for the 41th world renowned Passion-Play is well on its way and if you like to witness this mega event, it is time to make your travel preparations and bookings now!

The play runs for 5 consecutive months at the end of each decade and every performance runs for 6 - 7 hours with a meal served during intermission. The Passion-Play is a dramatic reenactment of the Passion of Christ. The history of the Oberammergau Passion-Play started in 1633, in the middle of the most destructive Thirty Years War and after months of suffering and death from the plague, the citizens of Oberammergau swore an oath, that they would perform the Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ every ten years. Legend has it, that thereafter not one more citizen died of the plague.
It all started back in 1633 when the black death reached Oberammergau during the Thirty Years War and the citizens turned to God for help. Nearly every other family had deaths to mourn and so they all came together at the cemetery and swore an oath to portray the suffering and death of the Lord every 10 years. They also erected a symbol of Christ on poles and crossbars, etching by the Oberammergauer artist Hans Schwaighofer. At Pentecost, in the year 1634, they fulfilled their pledge for the first time on a stage, constructed above the fresh graves of the plague victims.

The Passion-Play shows the trial, suffering and death of Jesus Christ in a dramatic fashion. The play is linked to the Lent, an important time before the Easter celebrations for Christian denominations, primarily in the Catholic Church. What makes this Passion-Play so outstanding in the world is the fact, that it is only held once every 10 years. The actors, directors, scriptwriters, stage set coordinators, technicians, musicians and all other supporting members of the production are solely citizens of Oberammergau and in this way still honoring the pledge of their ancestors, given nearly 380 years ago. Over 2,000 people take part in this play and auditions start 2-3 years before the actual event. The men start to grow their hair to look the part when applying for a role and the most prestigious part is of course the role of Jesus Christ.
In 1830, the 22nd Passion Play year, Ludwig I granted permission for the play under the condition that the stage would be no longer erected over the cemetery. This is when the stage was set up on a meadow on the northwestern edge of town. Its ground plan determined the structure of the Passion Play Theater to the present day. At that times 5,000 spectators could be accommodated in front of the stage. From 1830 to 1850 a more romantic view of the play was discovered in line with the Zeitgeist and widely publicized. Since 1870 people from all over the world started to come and witness the Passion-Play in Oberammergau and an ever growing popularity turned it into the mega event, which it is today.

In the year 2000 the Passion-Play was sold out and the same is projected for the year 2010. If you like to join this event, you should make a decision soon and maybe you like to combine your trip to Germany with other, great destinations and things to explore in Bavaria.

This is an example of what you can do in Oberammergau while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Oberammergau we compiled a more comprehensive Oberammergau travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during you Germany vacation.

This article has been written by Monika Petra. She likes to write Germany related travel articles on Live Like a German - a site for exploring Germany, to learn more about its culture / language, and to find great Germany vacation rentals or holiday apartments when going on a Germany vacation.

Shopping in Birmingham

Oh no, are you a budget traveller visiting Birmingham, but you get offended by the prices of clothes? Pricey high fashion has made an impact on Birmingham the last few years. Despite popular belief, Birmingham is actually drowning in fashion and its designers are leading lights within the UK fashion scene. Local designer Jacob Kimmie recently had an exhibition at prestigious London Fashion Week and Central Saint Martins graduate Usefzada, also from Birmingham, has been dressing Thandie Newton lately. But, this type of fashion is not wanted by today's value for money shoppers in a financial climate that is catastrophic.

So where to go for some Cheap shopping in Birmingham? For downtown chic head to The Custard Factory's flea market in Digbeth (nearest Station Moor Street) on a Saturday for vintage clothes or for the lads try Sunday when the wares are more geared towards vinyl. If there's no spare time in your dairy on weekends t then head to Urban Village, also at The Custard Factory, any time. It's literally a warehouse rammed with second hand clothes!

Also rammed with garb is The Oasis Market on Priory Square is thankfully about as far away from the high street chain as you'll get. It sells Gothic clothes, clusters of silver jewellery, posters, bondage bits and bobs and dope labels such as Dready. And it's also the best place to buy Dr Martins and Wrangler jeans which never go out of fashion.

Hopefully these tips makes it possible for you to enjoy some affordable shopping while visiting the former industrial powerhouse of Britain.

Is your budget tight? It's allright, travel guide Dirt Cheap Birmingham [] shows you where to eat, drink, sleep and shop. Contains many tips about cheap shopping opportunities in Birmingham.

Bullfighting in Madrid

While there's no doubt that it's a big difference from watching a Knicks game or cheering on Manchester United, that is precisely why you should head to a bullfight when you're in Spain. Once you get past that whole cruel-to-animals thing, you really have to look at bullfighting as the art that it is.

Madrid's bullring's official name is La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. It is amazing from an architectural point of view, an impressive red brick and ceramic tile múdejar-style structure exploding out of the ground in a residential neighborhood.

From the suits the matadors wear, to the whole spectacle with the audience waving their white handkerchiefs, to visit a bullfight is a great opportunity to have an up-close encounter with a very unique and extraordinary (albeit somewhat barbaric) tradition. When you go to a bullfight you will either be very interested and jump up and shout "Olé!" along with the die-hard locals, or feel that the whole thing is a barbaric and unjust setup that you would want to distance yourself from. Many tourists visit the bullring only to leave after half an hour.

Las Ventas is located at they eponymous metro stop (Ventas, L2). You literally can't miss it. Bullfights take place every Sunday from March to October.

A ticket to a bullfight can be very expensive. The closer to the bullring you are sitting, the more expensive it is. The price range is usually 200-15 euros. The cheapest tickets are towards the top of the stadium and there is no shade. But, you get a great overview of the whole spectacle.

Bullfighting in Madrid's Las Ventas bullring is a bloody spectacle which is heavily covered in the budget travel guide Dirt Cheap Madrid [].

Don't Forget About Berlin

Berlin Germany is one place that many people know about but tend to forget about when trying to plan a vacation. Planning a vacation can be very time consuming and difficult and certain places can tend to leave people's minds when they plan.Berlin is one of those places that can tend to be left off the list because many people don't know what is in Berlin. They simply don't realize what Berlin has to offer. Berlin has food, shops, attractions and history what more could you want on your vacation?

First off the trip has to include a visit to the East Side Gallery. This gallery is actually a piece of the Berlin Wall it is now used as a large art gallery. This gallery hold over one hundred pieces of art and is free to the public. This section of the wall once divided east Berlin and west Berlin, but is now the largest open gallery in world. If you enjoy museums then perhaps Museum Island is a good stop for you, this island holds five incredible museums and a cathedral. It is truly a site being right on the river and is a treasure that Berlin visitors usually miss out on.

If you would like to pay tribute to Holocaust victims Berlin is the place to come. They have the most impressive and moving memorials to the Holocaust victims. The site is over 4 acres and over 2,000 pillars. And underneath the ground is the name of every known Holocaust victim. Remember when visiting while this is an attraction it is also a memorial. The Memorial Church in Berlin is also another historic site. This church was damaged by many air raids in World War II. This is what caused it to lose its' tower, now this church stands as a memorial to World War II.

The last place that you must see in Berlin is a gate, but not just any gate, this gate serves as a symbol to the "new" Germany. The Brandenburg Gate once stood dividing east Berlin and west Berlin in the Cold War. When the wall came down the gate remained standing as symbol to the past, present and future. The gate itself is free to see, and is a highly recommended stop. Technically this gate was not a part of the Berlin Wall but definitely held great value to the wall and its' purpose.

Berlin Germany may be forgotten by many tourists when planning trips, however, this is a mistake. Berlin has so much to offer visitors it's hard to see why anyone would want to pass it up. Heritage, art, and history this city really does have it all, and this is only a taste of what this place has to offer. Berlin may seem like it would be an expensive trip and for many travelers it will be however, these few must sees that you just learned about are all free and open to the public. Meaning that to see these great monuments you only need to be in the great city of Berlin.

Traveling on vacation? Try looking up tips and tricks by going to

Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Sea turtles are found in all the oceans (except the Arctic Ocean) worldwide. There are essentially seven species of these animals. Of these seven (viz. leatherback, olive ridley, flat back, hawksbill, loggerhead, kemps ridley and green turtle), the leatherback variety is found in Costa Rica. However, since the species of the leatherback are on swift decline, they have been declared as an endangered species on this planet.

When Edward R. Mercer, one of the largest real estate developers, made Costa Rica his home, he pledged to stop the illegal poaching of the sea turtles as well as ensure the safety of the crucial nesting beaches where the turtles return year after year.

The leather back sea turtle is the largest and the heaviest of the sea turtles with the scientific name, Dermochelys coriacea. It draws its name from the leathery skin that envelops it. The leather back variety lacks the hard shells present in the other turtles. So, in order to compensate for it, the leatherback bears a mosaic of bony plates.

The leather back species has a life span of about seventy years on an average. They are found close to the sources of food and have a distinctive feature of exclusively feeding upon the jelly fish most of the time. Deep divers of Costa Rica, the female leatherback turtles return to the protected nesting beaches every year between October and March to lay 100-150 eggs on an average at the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The biggest threat to the endangered sea turtle species is a wide range of factors starting from loss of critical nesting beaches, predation by humans and over fishing for the purpose of turtle eggs and meat.

The main reason for the capture of the leather back sea turtle in Costa Rica is basically for its eggs and high price for functioning as the aphrodisiacs. When Edward R. Mercer, one of the largest real estate developers, made Costa Rica his home, he pledged to stop the illegal poaching of these endangered animals as well as ensure the safety of the crucial nesting beaches where they return year after year. The entire island was strictly cordoned off by the guards; they were guided to the new nesting beaches in protected national parks.

This ensured that population of sea turtles which has decreased to dangerous levels started rising again and now sea turtles are no longer endangered.

My team can write any article on any topic at a very reasonable rate. You can contact me for any article requirement at

Destination Attractions - Tips for Travel to Germany

Anybody who is planning a vacation in Europe considers visiting Germany. There is so much that Germany offers in each city that it is important to know about it in advance before going there.

Two famous locations in the Baden-Wurttemberg region are Baden-Baden and the Brenner's Park Hotel and Spa. Baden-Baden which is located north of the Black Forest is a great summer destination as it has various spas, hiking trails, a huge promenade, spectacular springs and pastel houses. The Brenner's Park Hotel and Spa offers you luxury comforts including a spa treatment. The Bodensee and Lake Constance are located in this region.

The Alpine Road or Deutsche Alpenstrasse presents a very beautiful scenic view. It stretches along the Bavarian Alps. The route offers a good view of the ancient and impressive towns, castles and villages. Germany's highest mountain Zugspitse and Lake Konignesse are also found here. A part of The Romantic Road called Romantische Strasse is in Bavaria too. A very beautiful city Bamburg is also located nearby which was at one time the Holy Roman Empire's capital.

Munich which can also be called the financial capital of Germany has got a very deep history and many museums. The Alte Pinakothek has got a very good collection of Renaissance art from the 14th to the 18th centuries including 'Virgin and Child' by Da Vinci, 'Crowning with Thorns' by Titian and artwork by Hals, Durer, Ruben and Memling. The admission fee is 4 dollars. Then there is the Deutsches Museum which is the world's most comprehensive technical and scientific museum. You can find lots of interesting, interactive displays and films. Besides museums, Munich has lots of world-class restaurants and drinking joints. In fact, it is very famous for its Oktoberfest, a sixteen-day beer festival every October. This festival is world famous for its fun, high spirits and attracts millions of tourists every year to Munich.

Berlin is the capital city of Germany located between central and north-east. It also has several museums like the famous Science Museum, the Dahlem and the Bode Museum that holds historical relevance pertaining to the Berlin Wall. One section of the Berlin Wall still remains which is the Brandenburg Gate. Berlin is also famous for its world famous orchestra known as The Berlin Philharmonic which attracts music lovers.

There are many more places to visit in Germany including the Cologne Cathedral, Frankfurt, Rhineland, Saxony, Dresden and Hannover.

My team can write any article on any topic at a very reasonable rate. You can contact me for any article requirement at

Spanish Schools - What is Education in Spain Like?

Obviously, if you have children and you wish to move to Spain, then the schooling of your children will be your most important priority.

In fact, the overall welfare of your children will probably be the deciding factor as to whether any move to Spain is actually possible and their educational needs may define where you live. Certainly it is true to say that the happiness of your children in Spain will be critical to the success of your relocation. If children are unhappy then this can place tremendous stress upon the adults within a family - to the point at which it can strain a previously good working relationship.

Fortunately, education in Spain is good, albeit that (like the UK) considerable care is required if you are to obtain the best possible results. Of course, the big difference in Spain for a child is that they will be taught in Spanish (and sometimes in a regional dialect, such as Valenciano). As few North European children speak Spanish, it makes their entry into the Spanish schools system sensitive and it can mean that it takes a while for your child to settle. That said, it is extraordinary how fast children pick up a new language and I have only ever known one child unable to learn Spanish.

Of course, timing has a huge part to play when it comes to placing a child into normal (not international) Spanish schools. Without doubt, the younger a child the easier it is for them to assimilate Spanish and to therefore get to grips with education in Spain and the academic work itself. A far greater problem is faced by older children and experience has shown that there is an age at which children find it, to all intents and purposes, impossible to both learn a new language and deal with the demands of increasingly complicated academic work. In essence, the danger time for moving a child into Spanish schools (if they speak no Spanish) is when they are around 12 - 13 years old. Earlier than that and most children will easily learn the language and be able to catch up with the academic work. Older, and it will become difficult (to impossible), for them to keep up with their peers - and not to be able to do so will be demoralising and damaging during a vulnerable time of their lives.

Education in Spain for children is compulsory from the ages of 6 to 16, with primary education lasting 6 years - followed by four years of compulsory secondary education at the end of which a Certificate of Education is received. State Spanish schools are free and normally school uniform is not worn. However, the purchase of school books is the responsibility of parents and can be quite costly (around 300 Euros per child per year). After the age of 16, children can continue with their education in Spain and go to vocational institutes or study for the academically demanding (and highly regarded) Bachillerato. The latter takes two years and is needed should a child wish to attend university.

State schools tend to be as variable as in the UK and much depends upon the precise intake area. It is therefore always wise to check very carefully the reputation of what may become your local Spanish school. Of course, there are private Spanish schools which can often be a very wise choice. These can provide a superb education in Spain within environments that are controlled, safe and that have high aspirations for their students. They provide terrific value for money compared to the cost of their UK (for example) counterparts and, if you can afford it, are well worth using for your children. Fees (2008) vary considerably but can be around 350 euros per month (10 months).

Equally, Spain has a scattering of international schools which provide, in English, a British curriculum. Oddly enough, these Spanish schools frequently have a high proportion of Spanish children, as the wealthy Spanish have a strong urge to ensure that their children are completely fluent in Spanish. They are particularly pertinant if you wish to move to Spain and your children are over the age of 12. As a parent with two children, I have been very impressed by the standard of education in Spain - and my son now is attending university having passed the Bachillerato. This has been a tremendous success (he started Spanish schooling when he was 13) and proof that the existing system of education in Spain works for foreigners!

Nick Snelling is the published author of three books on Spain including 'How to Move Safely to Spain' He also maintains an authoritative Blog on Spanish culture, life in Spain and moving to Spain - which you can see on

How to Find Cheap and Tasty Restaurants in Madrid

Are you visiting Madrid on a tight budget? The Spanish capital has literally countless options for those of you who don't want to break the bank but still want to eat well, and I'm talking real restaurants where you can sit down at a table, get served and enjoy your meal without no rush.

Many of the restaurants in Madrid serves great food. For, like, pocket change. The most important thing to remember when going out for a meal is to stay away from restaurants who are located nearby big tourist attractions. If they only cater to tourists they do not need to deliver great quality meals on a consistent basis, why bother? There will always come new tourists, and as long as they have a prime location the food is likely to be expensive in price, and below-average in taste. The best tip in order to get an inexpensive and tasteful meal is to notice if there's any locals eating in the restaurant. If there's plenty of Spanish people enjoying the food it's likely to be a good choice.

Museo del Jamon is an example of a good restaurant in Madrid, yes, the name is «Museo», but there is no curators, no headsets, no gift shop. Just ham. Everywhere. Yep, no shortage of ham here. Ham in every way, shape or form, hanging from the ceiling (kind of like an art exhibition), together with about another billion options in small portions (called raciones), best accompanied by round after round of beer. Here you should expect to expand your stomach (your mind, not so much) and get your fill of Spain's number one delicacy for very little money indeed.

The restaurant is present at two places in Madrid:

Carrera de San Jerónimo, 6
Metro Sol (L1, L2, L3)
Tel. 91 521 0346

Calle Mayor, 7
Metro Sol (L1, L2, L3)
Tel. 91 531 4550

Dirt Cheap Madrid [] show you how to have an inexpensive vacation in the Spanish capital. Visit to get more tips on cheap restaurants in Madrid.

Why Get a Custom Business Card

When opening a business, there is one critical thing to be purchased. Business cards. These allow someone to stand out in a crowd, as well as be easily contacted at a later date. The more attractive and well organized a business card, the more likely the client is actually to take a card and ultimately call back.

The Custom cards should include:
  • The businesses custom logo
  • Easy to read font, indicating:
  • The business name
  • Possible subtitle (this will inform the customer exactly what the business does)
  • Contact name
  • Physical Business Address (or just city if there is no actual business location)
  • Phone number
  • Email Address
  • Website
Custom business cards can also come in many formats. Some are double sided, some are very colorful, some are simple, and the list goes on. A business card should be a representation of the firm, as this is what the customer will be taking with them. However, the design of the card should in no way shadow the actual contact information. This should be the focal point of the card.

There are also many different qualities of business cards. There is thicker cardstock paper, embossed print, etc. A lot of these are not necessary, but as this is a very important part of selling a business, it wouldn't do to have cheap looking cards.

Logos should also be something to consider. There are graphic designers who work in depth with making logos. However, this can be a costly service. If the business is profitable, or there is already a budget set aside for this, a professional logo is never a bad idea. If the firm is just starting out, or if the budget is very tight, there are websites that have sets of pre-designed business cards. These tend to have very generic patterns, and there is always the risk of one business having an almost identical card as another business.

There are often plenty of small firms that do various printing jobs. This option may be more costly. Again, it is a worthy investment (after doing extensive research on the company) if there is a budget for it. Otherwise much more cost-effective solutions can be found online. As previously mentioned, there are many websites online that help businesses find cheap and effective business cards. These are ordered straight from the site, and can be delivered right to the business.

The last, and most important thing to remember when getting custom business cards, is to ensure that all of the information is correct, and quickly read. Without this, clients are very unlikely, or unable, to contact the business.

So, when starting up a business, or just giving your existing business a bit of a facelift or rebranding, an effective and custom business card should be essential.

ICustom Boxes is the leading brand in the designing, production, and printing of customizable packaging services and solutions, since 2010. At iCustomBoxes, we deliver businesses and consumers with customized printed packaging solutions.

How to Successfully Move to Spain and Stay

At first sight the title of my book may seem a little odd? Well you might think it's easy to move to Spain; just book a flight, and find somewhere to stay; the rest will sort itself out. "We just need to get there" and start to enjoy the new life in the Sun Right?

Wrong. Sorry but a lot of us that escape in search of the "Dream", find it all goes wrong and they struggle like crazy to get everything in place, but in the end they return back home, with lost dreams, big debts, and having to start all over again.

It doesn't have to be like that if you plan a ahead...

Did you know that every year more than 191,000 Britons emigrated but in the same year 105,000 returned having failed to make their dream work?

That's 86,000 lost dreams, an awful lot of sadness indeed. Worse still it has caused each and every one of them, not only a great deal of heartache, but there are also the financial costs involved.

Coming home involves getting a job, finding a home and so on. Possibly you will have sold the car, and bought another in Spain. Inevitably you will have to sell that and start all over again.

This book aims to give you a few straight facts; albeit in a light hearted writing style, so that you can make a few plans ahead of your move, and truly make it a one way trip, and achieve the dream of a new life in Spain forever!

So, why do some people fail to survive abroad?

Often the reason is down to family level. It is a very simple decision if you live alone. If you have a partner then it is absolutely essential that you talk through everything very thoroughly.

In my many years of hosting Spanish Property Exhibitions in The United Kingdom, I met numerous couples that attended purely with the intention of "selling" the whole idea of the Spanish Dream to their respective partner. They hoped that by seeing the beautiful photographs of the lovely Villas. Happy couples sipping wine outside the traditional tapas bars, or relaxing on the long sandy beach in Guardamar on a lovely sunny December afternoon would do the trick. Unfortunately life is not quite that simple.

Don't try selling the dream to your partner...

Hey, when you went on your last holiday to Spain, I'll bet it was perfect? What you are now contemplating is not going to be a holiday; it is truly going to be something you both have to live, everyday maybe for the rest of your lives. You can't persuade anybody, least of all your beloved partner to have the same dream as yourself. You may be lucky and truly both have the same dream. It is essential right now that you completely and absolutely have the same dream. If not of course there are alternatives to a complete move. Subject to your finances it may well be possible to compromise, and split your time between The UK and Spain. With the flight costs being reasonable these days, this is a distinct possibility for many of us.

If we step back say to the 1990's for a moment, at that time many of us just wanted to sell our property in the UK, and with the pot of cash from that, it may well have been enough to purchase a satisfactory Spanish Villa, and still retain enough of that "pot" to invest in the Bank, and "live happily ever after off the interest and pensions received.

Property Prices are no longer at 1990 prices of course, and this scenario is not often possible any longer. Spanish Property Prices have leapt ahead faster than any other EC Country if you look back 20 Years, so by the time you make your property purchase in Spain, the "pot" may well be looking a little shaky.

Splitting your time between UK & Spain?

Both you and your partner must be completely honest with each other right now before you spend a single Euro. If you have even a 10% doubt about making it in Spain at this time, then that doubt will surely fester once you make the move, and things might just slide from there on.

What's the way around this?

Clearly if you have doubts, then you can still go ahead and enjoy the dream, but with little "Home Breaks" built in. Maybe it will be that one of you will want to hop back to visit the Grandchildren? So build this into your plan now. After all it is pretty cheap to go back, you are not moving to Australia are you! This simple escape clause in your "agreement" can well make the difference between success and failure. Talk it through at great length.

This is possibly the most frequent cause of people "going back home", so don't skip over these issues. If you are still in doubt, take another holiday in Spain, but this time make certain you stay in a property that will be similar in cost to the type of property that you will be able to afford if you decide to move. That way it is almost like a dress rehearsal. You can taste "living in the real Spain" not insulated from reality in a five star hotel, with waiters offering you your every whim!

When you move you will have to go shopping for Groceries; decorate the spare room with real paint and get hot and dirty too!

We once did just that in the middle of August in temperatures exceeding 36c inside. Being too hot to wear "overalls" or pretty much anything at all, (well apart from the essential coverings of course) we ended up with more emulsion paint on ourselves than the walls, and vowed to leave all future decorating jobs until the winter!

Splitting Countries

If costs are a little strained, you might well be able to "trade down" your UK property, and use the profits form the sale to purchase your Spanish Property. Another popular way to afford a home in both countries is to Rent out part of your UK property, but keep an "apartment" (or create one) for your home visits. Often the rental achieved can mean that your home "apartment" comes "free", that is to say, the tenanted part of your property covers all of the property costs including your portion.

Another option if you have family in the UK is to consider extending their property in some way. Our own example was to extend our daughters property by building a Garage Conversion. This provides us with a low cost, but comfortable home stay property with its own facilities, whilst adding value to the property at the same time.

If you can try to "think outside the box" you might surprise yourselves just how creative you can be.

It's always better to have a home base if you have any lingering doubts.

Even though in reality you may only use the "home base" quite infrequently, the simple fact that it is there for you if you should need it, and will almost certainly solve any of those nagging emotional or homesickness thoughts that you or your partner might have. You can then feel ready to face the new life in Spain with confidence, in the sound knowledge that there is a bolthole back home should the need arise at anytime.

Where in Spain will you live?

Countless times I am told that the Spanish dream property is something like this... In the Country, with lovely views, near the beach, large gardens, quiet location away from it all. How practical is this? You are both planning to move to Spain for the rest of your lives, so pause for a moment and ask yourselves, How much would that dream cost? Given a quick internet search, I can tell you now that it would not be a cheap option. Lovely views do not come cheap, especially if you want that view near the beach.

Let's take a look at each of these options in more detail...

Buying inland is normally cheaper than coastal, but you still have to go grocery shopping.

How far is it to the nearest Supermarket?

What if you want an evening out?

How far is it to the Restaurants and Bars?

Remember in Spain, the drinking laws are quite strict, and now comply with EC directives. In effect this means that even a small glass of Lager will place you over the limit, and liable to arrest, a fine and a possible driving ban. If you like a small end of evening tipple then it is best that you have a local bar, from which you can easily walk home.

What about a Finca?

Some 10 years ago, that was our dream too. A lovely finca which really is a Spanish Farmhouse, or smallholding, tucked away in the countryside.

In reality it often involves a long winding single track road leading up to the Finca, so imagine getting home, and as I am sure we have all done at times, realise that we have forgotten to get some essential items for dinner that night. Yes we have to trail right back along that winding single track road again. Pretty soon you will hate that road intensely.

It's one thing getting away from the tourist hustle and bustle, but think carefully before you buy something in the middle of nowhere, with no local services.

Another downside to consider when "getting away from it all" is of course it is going to take you that extra journey when you decide to hop back home for a week. Having done this now for the past seven years, I can assure you it is quite important to have easy access to Motorways and subsequently The Nearest Airport.

Expectation and the Reality

Watching one of the numerous "Place in the Sun" television shows, might give the impression that everything is just so perfect. In reality you will still have to stand in queues to Pay Bills, visit banks, builders, even the tax office perhaps? You cannot escape from the reality of life completely. Yes of course you can put behind you your past mistakes, but you have to make that extra effort not to make those same mistakes again in your new Country.

Finding the perfect home in Spain.

The fact is that you might not find the ideal home first time for two reasons. Firstly it is quite different to finding the ideal home in your home town in the UK, as you will already know the good areas that you would like to move to. This is of course not obvious on a short visit to Spain. It is good advice to rent short term, but you should remember that every penny spent on renting is working to reduce your final capital available to you when you buy in Spain.

If you find a property that "ticks most of the boxes" for you, and you buy it at the lowest possible price, then you will be in a good position to sell on and move up the property ladder just as most of us are doing now (realise it or not) in The UK. Thus retaining your capital, and quite likely even making a profit in the process.

Property Prices in Spain

Over the past 20 years, property prices have in Spain increased faster than all other European Countries. Rumours are awash that the bubble in Spain has finally burst. My research, backed up with facts, does show that in some areas, particularly that of Valencia they have indeed fallen some 10%. In all other areas of Spain including The Costa Blanca and The Costa Del Sol they are still rising at 8% per annum. What has changed is the supply and demand situation, and understandably this has caused builders and Estate Agents big financial headaches in terms of Cash Flow. That said the stronger Companies, are riding through this, and already there are signs that demand is returning. This lack of demand is thought to have been started by the upsurge of Eastern European Countries like Bulgaria & Turkey offering competition. Gradually though the old favourite Spain is winning through once again.

And Finally...

If you have thought things through carefully, it may well be time to "make it all happen for you" and start the ball rolling. Moving to Spain full time, or on a split time basis, is not the one way decision it used to be. So many flights everyday, mean that you can always afford to "hop" and get the best of both worlds, so why wait any longer.

Have a Happy new Life

This article was written by me and is purely a personal point of view, and I cannot be held liable for any actions that might be taken by readers. It may be copied or distributed by any means providing it is not changed and includes all links.

Inching Towards Iceland

Blue Lagoon Reykjavik Iceland
When we hear vacation, usually people see tropical islands with white sand beaches; not many automatically think of Iceland. This incredible land mass of volcanoes, lava fields, mountains, glaciers, and charming little towns is not your average destination, but if you want a vacation that will be remembered forever this one must go on your list.

Have you seen movies such as Tomb Raider, Die Another Day, and Batman Begins? Well if you didn't know some of those scenes are shot in Iceland. In beautiful Skaftafell National Park. This park looks like it is stolen straight out of a comic book, where fire and water always fight, while thick greens of birch woods and black desert surround the entrances. There are waterfalls which flow over black basalt cliffs; cruise ship size glaciers take over the horizon; and lagoons which take travelers inside ice caves they can explore. Guided tours through glaciers and ice caves depart daily and finish off with hot bowls of soup and other warm food to create sublime experiences.

If the cold is not something that particularly calls to your heart, Iceland's uncommon mixture of geography works in your favor. Because of Iceland's volcanic activities, a lot of geysers appear; scattered all over the county. These geysers create hot springs and natural thermal pools, and watching one erupt with a hot stream going feet into the air is like no other experience. The most popular of these springs is the Blue Lagoon. The water temperature here reaches between 98F and 103F. But that isn't all this Blue Lagoon has to offer. Many say that the water is magical. Due to the rich amount of silica and minerals in the water, it has been known to help, and in some cases cure skin diseases, such as eczema and psoriasis. There is also a spa and a restaurant located on the banks of the lagoon.

At night, after a day of hiking and jumping into hot springs, one can see the beauty that is the Aurora Borealis, or more commonly known as the Northern Lights. They often occur because of the latitude of Iceland, and the increase of solar activity up north rather than at lower latitudes. During the late fall and winter months is the best time to experience these, for the solar activity levels rise during these months, and the lights appear to be brighter and more common than during spring and summer.

Not only is the geography of this country captivating but its wildlife will take your breath away as well. During the months, May and September, whales migrate from down south back up north to begin hunting. Most whales stay close to the Arctic Circle, thus making Iceland one of the best places to see these magnificent mammals. Whale watching tours depart daily and make for great photo sessions, to show friends and family.

From basalt cliffs and ice caves to hot springs and whale watching Iceland has it all. The underrated vacation destination has much to offer and more memories to be made.

Germany Travel Tip - Flower Island In Mainau

All those who like to be enchanted by a colorful flora should not miss the opportunity to visit the island Mainau, in the Lake Constance, Baden-Württemberg. The season starts traditionally at the end of March in the indoor palm house, which displays an outstanding collection of orchids. This is also the time when tulips, narcissi and hyacinths start to blossom at the so called spring-alley. As the year moves on roses, rhododendrons, palms and bananas, only to name a few, will show their outstanding beauty, adding to the sub-tropical flair of Mainau. September-October is the time for the yearly dahlia show and it never gets boring on this Island. If you travel with kids they will enjoy the fun and variety in the "Kinderland", a uniquely created park with a water world, petting zoo, pony riding, a railroad and a dwarf-village. Hospitality is high on the agenda on Mainau and everybody is invited to join in the fun.
Flower sculptures at MainauGarden gnomes in Germany
Thinking about Lake Constance, the first thing that pops into ones mind is the Flower Island Mainau. It is a part of the district Litzelstetten-Mainau, Konstanz in Baden-Württemberg and in ownership of the aristocratic family Bernadotte of Swedish origins. Mainau is the third-largest Island in Lake Constance and is 1,100 meters long and at one point 610 meters wide. Because of the mild Lake Constance climate an exotic tropical and sub-tropical fauna prospered here with palm trees and other Mediterranean plants. Grand duke Friedrich I started the park with the Arboretum north-west of the Island, where he planted 500 different species of broad-leaved trees and conifers, with some of them being very exotic and valuable. Simply huge are some of the giant redwood trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum), whose seeds came from California in 1853 and were planted by Friedrich I on the Island Mainau in 1864. Therefore they are some of the oldest of its kind in Europe.

The aristocratic family Bernadotte still plays an important role in all the floral display and islands activities. The family manor was built after the plans of Johann Caspar Bagnato (Giovanni Gaspare Bagnato). The construction, under the supervision of Bagnato, started in 1739 and was completed 7 years later. The Baroque manor has 3 wings and include a court, the Ehrenhof and a terrace garden. The manor is still the residence of the Bernadette family and you will see the flag on top of the roof when the family is present. The private rooms are in the north wing, left from the court and are not accessible to the public.
Late March to the end of October is the time when Mainau stands up to its reputation to be the Flower Island. Until the middle of May tulips, narcissi and hyacinths will dominate the gardens and make it a colorful experience for all visitors. During the same time viola, forget-me-not and primrose add to the color. The spring-alley leads to the rose-garden, which was also created by Friedrich I. The Italian style garden is strictly geometric in its form, with pergola, sculptures and fountains. During summer around 500 varieties of roses bewitch ones senses in this garden. On the whole of the island you will discover around 30,000 pedicle of 1.200 different species. A Baroque stairway leads to the manor terrace which will give you a great view and your next point of interest might be the Mediterranean terraces, with palms, agave, cactuses and bougainvillea. From here, you have a panoramic view of Lake Constance and the Alps. The south of the island is home to the dahlias and September and October is the time to be there. Around 20,000 shrubs of 250 different species are home in the south garden and shine endlessly in their beautiful colors.

Mainau is also home to a butterfly house, with around 1,000 square meters the largest in Germany. It is open all year round and visitors will walk around in a truly tropical climate, accommodating the fauna and around 80 different species of butterflies. Depending on the season 700-1,000 butterflies can be admired by the visitors. Most of these species are originated in South America and some breed naturally on the premises. But still the butterfly house receives every week 400 pupae from breeder from Costa Rica, England and the Netherlands with a yearly budget of € 20,000.

The Kinderland is said to be one of the most beautiful kids playground in the Lake Constance region and it is time for your kids to confirm that statement. Between the ages of 1-4 the dwarf village is definitely the place for fun and discovery. Then there is the water world, petting zoo, pony riding, a railroad and the newest addition in 2009 is the theme park Blumis Uferwelt. It is aimed to the children's urge to move and offers plenty of safe space to climb, hide, look and listen. A children's friendly restaurant is located here and offers a special menu for kids.

The island has many restaurants and cafes and maybe you like to try a barbecued sausage. At a perfect spot, the restored historical manor wall, you can enjoy this nice snack. Sausages come in a wide variety and you can choose between red barbecued sausages, Mainau-sausages, spiral formed onion-sausages and chili-, beef - or poultry sausages. Another highlight of this dining experience are the 3 meters long and 1,6 meters wide tables. In the middle of each table you will always see plants in full bloom and even trees will grow through the tables. One more reason to come and enjoy Flower Island Mainau, again and again.

This is an example of what you can do in Mainau while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Mainau we compiled a more comprehensive Mainau travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during you Germany vacation.

This article has been written by Monika Petra. She likes to write Germany related travel articles on Live Like a German - a site for exploring Germany, to learn more about its culture / language, and to find great Germany vacation rentals or holiday apartments when going on a Germany vacation.

10 Things to Do in Piraeus, Greece

Piraeus is a historical city in Greece close to Athens. It is visited by many tourists who either want to enjoy a ferry ride or embark on a cruise ship or hydrofoil to an island. It is easy to go there from Athens either by cab or metro.

Here are ten things you can do in Piraeus:


Here in the Saronic Gulf you can see the Flying Dolphins and beautiful yachts in the huge marina. You will find many shops, restaurants and taverns from where you can do boat watching too.


This is a naval and nautical museum that displays ancient and modern Greek ships, ship models, paintings, maps, flags and all sorts of ship equipments. You will also find some things from Aristotle Onassis's yacht and a section of the wall built by Themistocles.


This museum has artifacts from such ancient times dated as far back as the 4th century BC. You will find grave markers, a huge funeral monument and bronze statues of Artemis, Apollo and Athena. You will also find displays from the Roman and Classical periods as well as old treasures and the wreck of an ancient theater.


This hill offers a magnificent view of the sea and the Greek houses. You will find many restaurants, ice-cream parlors, cafeterias and bars. There are clubs too.


The Karaiskaki Stadium is the home arena of the famous Olympiakos soccer team; it was decorated in 2004 for the Olympics. Another Olympics venue nearby is the Peace and Friendship Stadium, which hosts many international competitions.


You can watch all kinds of ships, boats and yachts from all over the world in Piraeus.


The Veakeio Outdoor Theater and the Municipal Theater of Piraeus built in the 1880s hosts many dance performances, concerts and plays and lectures.


There are many shopping streets in Piraeus for purchasing antiques and other things. Every Sunday morning, a huge flea market is held near the Hippodameian Square.

9. EAT and DRINK

You will find lots of fish taverns, restaurants and bars in Piraeus for Greek food. For appetizers, you can have Greek salad, grilled octopus, a variety of olives, sardines, moussaka, eggplant dish, gyro etc. For dessert you can have Baklava, ouzo to drink and mezedes for snacks.


If you want to go to an island form Piraeus, you can take a ferry or to reach it faster, you can opt for a hydrofoil Dolphin. You can take a cruise of the Mediterranean. You must have a booking in advance.

My team can write any article on any topic at a very reasonable rate. You can contact me for any article requirement at

The Ten Most Popular Iceland Attractions

1. Gullfoss Waterfall is the most famous of Iceland's mythic waterfalls and will be the first Icleandic attraction that any native will usher you towards. The falls cascade a 105 feet into a stunning canyon. Mist rises up from the base, and on clear, pleasant days the sun casts beautiful arcs of rainbows across the breadth of the falls.

Reykjavik Iceland City
2. No visit to Iceland is complete without a day in the capital city of Reykjavik, the nation's cultural hub. Here you can spend a day exploring the city's many museums, have dinner at the famous landmark, The Pearl, and spend the evening drinking at one of Reykjavik's stylish bars or dancing at one of its hopping night clubs.

3. Thingvellir National Park, located about 40 minutes west of Reykjavik, is Iceland's oldest national park. It is a protected area of historical significance that has a stunning 52-square mile lake and great hiking trails throughout lava fields.

4. The Great Geysir (from which the word "geyser" originates) is the world's largest geyser and is easily accessible by bus in Reykjavik. The Great Geysir was formed in the 1300s; though now it only erupts on special (engineered) occasions, the nearby Strokkur erupts every 30 minutes for those who wish to snap some photos.

5. The Blue Lagoon, located about 15 minutes from the Keflavík International Airport,is a long-time favorite of visitors to Iceland, especially those who wish to test the notion that bathing in algae, silica and mineral salts is restorative for health. The lagoon is located in the middle of a moss-covered field of lava and draws its seawater from 2,000 meters below the surface. Entire families can bathe together here in the tranquil, peaceful water.

6. Iceland is the most active part of the Aurora Oval in the southern hemisphere, which means that anytime there is a clear sky, Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, can be see lighting the sky with its vibrant and brilliant colors and shapes. Iceland is generally well-placed Northern Lights viewings, but bus tours are also offered for those who wish to "chase" these lights and see them in their varying splendor.

7. In Medieval Europe, Mount Hekla, was considered an entrance to hell and was feared by the locals. But now visitors flock eagerly to this volcanic mountain which stands 4,892 feet high and erupted most recently in February 2000. The volcano towers over the lowlands, and its unusual, flat, ridged peak is often shrouded in a bank of clouds, explaining the volcano's name, "Hekla," or "hooded one."

8. Kverkfjöll Ice Caves, located just north of Vatnajökull, are one of the world's largest and strangest geothermal areas. Here, you can witness a hot river flowing under glacial ice! The hot water evaporates in the enclosed space and leaves beautiful patterns on the cave walls. Visitors can also hike from the glacier to the hot springs located at the nearby Hveradalur.

9. Another area of Iceland in which visitors can witness the startling interplay of hot and cold is the Vatnajokull Glacier, which is known for its volcanic activity. Vatnajokull is Europe's largest glacier and covers about 8% of the country.

10. Another waterfall that had to make this list is Skógafoss on the Skoga River, which is a favorite amongst locals and visitors because of its classic rectangular shape and its immense height of 60 meters. Skógafoss is easy to access and is usually flooded with visitors, who can hike up a path from the base of the falls to reach the very top.

Planning vacation to Iceland? Visit this Iceland travel guide for more information.

Building a House in Costa Rica

It can be a daunting task to build up a house in Costa Rica. This job requires the working knowledge and not tourist, knowledge of (construction) Spanish or someone who can always be with you to translate. Another important thing required for this purpose is patience, time, daily visits to work sites, building code knowledge, communication skills and once again a lot of patience. The first thing to be decided should be where to live in Costa Rica.

One of the most important people in this business is Ed Mercer. He started real estate business in this country and made amazing eco friendly homes. He realized the dreams of many who had seen a dream to possess a beautiful house in the lap of nature. This business proved to be very profitable and Ed Mercer succeeds in creating a one-stop-shop organization which made selling and buying of the real estate very easy. Though Ed Mercer was not a resident of this country but his love towards this place is beyond words. This person with his business skills and humanitarian spirits won the hearts of the Costa Rican and he was soon popularly known as Mr. Costa Rica. His principles of spending the earned money on the development of the place you live in and promising less and delivering more appealed to a large number of people. He being a very impressive public speaker became an inspiration for many young and upcoming businessmen. Not only that his noble deeds to save the precious wildlife landed him to the prestigious Hall of Fame where he was honored. Today Ed is an active member of Greenpeace, national Geographic and the World Wildlife Fund. Ed Mercer is a regular contributor to The Performance Magazine with Bill Cosby and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A philanthropic millionaire, Ed has actively been associated with the organizations like Feed the Child, Missing Child, Crippled Child, Scarlet Straight, Suicide hotlines and battered housewives. Ed being very humble still considers him only a student of business.

Many countries have stiff building codes that must be adhered to by the contractor but in Costa Rica it is not so and even if the code is there is little or no enforcement. Choosing a home builder who builds to the standard you want is critical. This also includes the quality of the building materials. You should make sure that the builder you pot for is cold stone fluent in your language and is also 100% fluent in construction and building Spanish. Another thing to be considered is that if your builder is not a Tico, he should be in the country legally and should have a Permanent Residency. Giving a general idea, a very good price for a simple home is around US$ 270 per sq. meter to US$323 per sq. meter. A simple house would be basically a one-story, rectangular structure with straight walls and a simple roof line built with block, concrete and stucco. Some people refer to this type of design as a 'Tico house'. On the other hand you should be able to build just about anything you want regardless of how complex and complete for between US$ 540 per sq. meter to US$645 per sq. meter. If you are building a simple block and concrete house and you are paying between US$40 per sq. foot and US$45 per sq. foot you're probably paying quite a bit too much. And if you are building anything from US$65 per sq. foot you are probably building a mini Taj Mahal.

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The Costs of Living in Madrid

Madrid, the Spanish capital is famous for its spectacular nightlife, cultural attractions and good climate. No wonder many are making plans for a more permanent stay in the hectic city.

Madrid has a quite large expat-community. It's not as big as the one in more international Barcelona, but still, it's possible to hang out with your own people while staying in the city. If you are more interested in learning Spanish and to meet the Spaniards, Madrid is a better choice than Barcelona because it's the capital of Spain, while many Barcelona-residents want to break out of Spain and the a tangible amount of locals prefer to speak Catalan.

But, enough of the Madrid vs. Barcelona debate. If you want to move to Madrid you will want to know that the costs of a place to stay starts at 250 euros a month.

Whether you're planning to hang out for 3 months or 3 years, you'll need to get yourself a place to stay. Your best bet is to rent a room in a shared flat, which, depending on the size and location could cost you between 250 and 500 euros a month. This is by far the best option, as assuming you don't live with crazy people, shared flats are very fun. Renting your own place can be quite expensive, as apartments in the center (and even outside of the center) usually start at around 700 euro, and can require deposits of up to a year at times (insane, I know).

Financing your stay? Your best bet for making some cash is teaching English, and there are no shortage of offers. Read the classifieds in the local newspapers and phone around.

Dirt Cheap Madrid [] show you how to have an inexpensive stay in the Spanish capital. Visit to get more tips about the expat life and moving to Madrid.

Germany Travel Tip - Visit Gohren-Lebbin

The small village of Göhren-Lebbin and the famous Baroque-Castle Blücher, in the district of Müritz, State Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, are located between the Fleesensee and Kölpinsee lakes and a perfect starting point for any family fun day. As part of the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte, the biggest connected lake area in the whole of middle Europe, naturally water sport is a big theme with sailing-, paddle- and house boats, but also swimming, horse riding, hiking, cycling and nature watch are favorite leisure activities not to be missed. Especially the Golf enthusiasts will find perfect facilities on the 5 different 18- and 9-hole courses, beautifully created and well maintained on 500 hectare of land.

In the heart of the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte, only 1.5 hours away from Berlin and 2 hours away from Hamburg you will discover Göhren-Lebbin, in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is a small community of 628 inhabitants and made itself known as a tourist destination with a wide range of sport and leisure activities. If you are a Golfer or like to give this sport a try, don't look any further. Here you will find the biggest Golf facilities in Northern Europe. 5 different 18- and 9-hole courses will challenge even the professional player and the Golf Arena with its Driving Range and the Golf School offer courses for any level of player. Off course there is always time to relax at their inviting Clubhouse. If you or a family member prefers Tennis, you are right on the spot with one of Germany biggest Tennis Sport Centers. 8 indoor- and 9 outdoor sand and artificial grass courts await you and you can get a coach to learn more about this sport. To round up the offer, Squash, Badminton and Football can be played here as well.

From 1843 to 1914 Göhren-Lebbin carried the name Blücher and from that period stems the Baroque-Castle Blücher. Today it is a luxurious Hotel and place of a Wellness Center, called Fleesensee Spa, with modern facilities and treatment options. The Fleesensee Spa is one of the biggest Wellness Landscapes in Germany with an area of 6.000 square meters. Try exotic treatments such as Ayurveda, Chi Yang, Sung Rei, or experience an Oriental Bath in the Hamam or the Cleopatra-Bath (for 2 persons) or pamper your beauty with luxurious brands, such as Ligne St. Barth, Thalgo and Maria Galland. Maybe you fancy the huge Water- and Sauna World with a Waterfall, a 52 meter long Slide, Whirl-Seats and the outdoor Brine-Pool. Definitely not boring on a maybe rainy day and reasonably priced with € 21, 60 for a day ticket per adult.

The gorgeous surroundings of Göhren-Lebbin and its location between 2 lakes naturally invites you to a boat trip. A highly recommended tour starts in the neighboring village of Waren (Müritz), crosses the lakes Kölpinsee and Fleesensee and finally reaches the village of Malchow. Another way to discover the lush nature between water, fields and woods, is to hike or rent a bicycle. Depending on your preference you can choose from a mountain-, racing- or touring-bike. At the Tourist Information Center you will get a detailed map for bikers and hikers, which shows you the various routes and gives you road information, such as the faster, asphalted routes or the most beautiful, scenic routes. Networks of 400 km trails are made for you to discover the beauty of this region and if you look carefully you might see a Fish- and Sea Eagle, Black Storks, Ice Birds and Gray Herons. Every year this is the resting place for thousands of migratory birds, such as Cranes and Wild-Geese, where they find plenty of food and water in this unspoiled, natural habitat of Göhren-Lebbin, in the Land of Thousand Lakes.

This is an example of what you can do in Göhren-Lebbin while traveling in Germany. If you want learn more about Göhren-Lebbin we compiled a more comprehensive Göhren-Lebbin travel guide in collaboration with local residents that provides unique travel insider tips which you can use during you Germany vacation.

This article has been written by Monika Petra. She likes to write Germany related travel articles on Live Like a German - a site for exploring Germany, to learn more about its culture / language, and to find great Germany vacation rentals or holiday apartments when going on a Germany vacation.

Top Things to Do in Chicago

If you are thinking of visiting the U.S. and don't know where to start your sight-seeing, consider Chicago. Chicago is a vibrant city located in the state of Illinois; it contains loads of history and culture for those who love to understand the past and the people, where the young and hip will love this city of entertainment.

Attractive Sights
There are numerous places of interest for your taking, depending on your time and budget. Here are some of the more popular places for your discovery and you will discover Chicago's beauty and charm that will attract you back again and again.

The set up of Chicago city itself is already an amazing sight to behold. It has the Harbor right at the front of the splendid Lake Michigan which parts the city on its left and right. Chicago has many beautiful and fascinating architectural monuments that are worthy of a second sight. Given below are few of the many tourist attractions in Chicago:

Sears Tower
This monumental skyscraper was the pride of the U.S.A in 1973 when it was declared to be the world's tallest structure with 110 stories at above 1,353 feet street level. The top story gives a breathtaking view of the whole city.

Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is a definite stop while you are in Chicago as it is the largest city park with many statures and monuments. You can even find nice beaches and playgrounds for the children's enjoyment as well as the famous Lincoln Park Zoo that houses a working Illinois farm replica. To see the stars, check out the Conservatory in the park.

Navy Pier
This hustling and bustling area is full of activities with wonderful museums such as the Chicago Children's Museum and the Smith Museum which houses beautiful Stained Glass pieces. The Navy Pier also houses the Chicago Shakespeare Theater for those who love the arts and drama. For the nature lover, the indoor botanical gardens, Crystal Gardens, will charm you with its wide range of flora and fauna.

John G. Shedd Aquarium
This has to be the world's biggest indoor mammal marine exhibition. There is no need to launch out to the sea for a good view of the beluga whales, dolphins, penguins, harbor seals and even sea otters. There are 22,000 amazing aquatic animals of various species housed in this aquarium.

Art Institute of Chicago
Art lovers will appreciate the wide range of intricate pieces that are available in this art museum which houses great collections as far back as 3,000 BC.

The Field Museum
This is an exciting and interesting attraction which gives you insight into the past civilizations. Its Underground Adventure is full of excitement as its name implies with a peep at the Egyptian tomb laid below ground. There are simulations and demonstrations of different cultures and ancient living environments that will thrill you.

Virtual Tour on Chicago
There may be too many sights for you to take in with your allotted time and budget. An alternative to get more than you can bargain for is to make a virtual tour to appreciate the renowned architectures of Chicago.

Chicago Bears
For the sports fan, you can enjoy a game or two at the Soldier Field that has just been renovated. It is at the Lake Michigan's shore south of Chicago downtown.

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Bratislava is a Great Starting Point For Discovering Europe

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the largest city in the small country with 250 000 inhabitants. You may not believe it, but this small capital city is a great entry point if you want to travel around Central and East Europe.

They say Slovakia is located right in the heart of Central Europe and it is indeed very true. Many travelers enjoy the trip to Bratislava from Vienna - only a 45 minute drive away. I love it because of its location and convenient accessibility to other European countries: Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Croatia. You can go anywhere in Europe from Bratislava on a budget.

If you are the adventurous-type, the Twin City Liner offers a unique experience for travelers who would like to ride a ship to Vienna. The ship leaves daily from the Danube River and takes you directly to the Austrian capitol.

Only one train ride away, Prague awaits you at the Charles Bridge. Or you can head south and be in Budapest in less than three hours. I have been to both cities by train and I simply love the efficient travel time. There are also direct flights via Ryan Air to London, Paris, and Milan departing from Bratislava.

A tip: If you take a day trip to Bratislava, you can head to Austria and catch Blaguss Vienna airport shuttle from the New Bridge for only 6.00 euros. Blaguss offers affordable bus rates for adults and students, ideal for the budget traveler. Buses leave regularly from the Erdbergstrabe bus station to cities Berlin for 33.00 euros, Zagreb for 33.00 euros, and Budapest for 23.50 euros.

Ken writes for Dirt Cheap Bratislava which is a honest travel guide [] to Bratislava.

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 [].

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 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

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 [].

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