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Five Tips for Timesharing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mij Gnow   
Apr 15, 2008 at 06:50 AM
As the international tourism industry continues to grow, time shares sales are blossoming. These vacation properties are becoming an increasingly popular way for frequent vacationers to secure convenient, cost-effective lodgings on an annual or biennial basis. A timeshare can be a great long-term investment, but before you embark on your journey to find the perfect vacation property for you, there are a few things you should consider to make an informed, practical purchase.

1. Research Carefully
A timeshare is something you will have for years to come. You may even purchase a deeded timeshare that will allow you to pass your vacation property along to your children or grandchildren. As such, you will want to ensure that the timeshare you are considering will be right for you and your family. Take your time and research carefully. Call the resort and request information; visit a few timeshare blogs and/or forums. Ask previous and current owners about their experiences at the particular resort. Consider your budget to determine the number of weeks, unit size and season you will be able to purchase.

2. Rent Timeshare First
Once you have narrowed your research to a few different resorts, try to find a timeshare rental at each. Renting is a great way to determine what you are looking for in a vacation property, and it is also a great way to compare resorts in a very hands-on way. Not to mention the fact that renting timeshare is often less expensive than paying for nightly accommodations in a hotel anyway.

3. Buy Timeshare Resale to Save Thousands
When you are ready to buy timeshare, you can save thousands on your purchase when you work with a knowledgeable timeshare reseller. With resale you will be purchasing from a previous owner, rather than directly from the resort, and therefore won't have to pay for resort expenses like marketing fees and salesmen's commissions.

4. Buy an Affiliated Timeshare to Travel the Globe
One little known fact about timeshares is that they are actually very flexible. In fact, it is estimated that some 70% of vacation property owners use their timeshare to travel to destinations other than their "home resort" (the resort that is deeded or contracted to them.) International corporations called exchange companies, and overarching programs called vacation clubs, make it possible for owners to trade their time for time at one of thousands of resorts worldwide.

5. Take Advantage of Added Benefits
Many exchange companies and vacation clubs offer enhanced, supplemental programs that allow owners to use their "points" to help with other travel-related expenses like vehicle rental, air-fair, cruises and even meal tickets.

About the Author
Mij Gnow is the creator and administrator of GreatVille Travel Directory (http://www.greatville.com), a comprehensive resource to travel, vacations and holidays around the world.
Last Updated ( Apr 15, 2008 at 06:55 AM )
I Love Touring Italy - Campania West Of Naples PDF Print E-mail
Written by Levi Reiss   
Nov 03, 2007 at 08:59 PM
If you are hankering for a European vacation, you should consider the area west of Naples in the Campania region of southwestern Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea. While the area is not undiscovered it tends to be less "touristy" than many other parts of Italy including Campagnia on the other side of Naples, namely Sorrento and the Isle of Capri described in companion articles in this series. If you're in the neighborhood, make sure to visit Naples, described in another companion article in this series.

We'll start our tour in Solfatara just west of Naples. Then we will head west to Pozzuoli and southwest to Baia. We'll pop up north to Cumae. We finish our tour with some island hopping, first south to Procida, and then southwest to Ischia. The entire area is called Campi Flegrei (Fields of Fire) because it sits on molten lava. There is no reason to believe that volcanic eruptions are a thing of the past. And remember, the area is not far from Mount Vesuvius on the other side of Naples.

Solfatara is a semiextinct volcano whose most recent eruption was in 1198. Its name comes from the Latin sulpha terra for land of sulphur so you know what to expect. Solfatara is not very pretty, unless you like to look at boiling mud. But as long as you stick to the path you should be safe. On the positive side the escaping vapors have been used for medicinal purposes since Roman times.

Pozzuoli is a fishing town that has become a suburb of Naples, hardly surprising given its proximity. The Greeks founded it in the Sixth Century B. C. Formerly the home of affluent Romans, its famous residents include St. Paul and Sofia Villani Scicolone better known by her professional name, Sophia Loren. Pozzuoli was damaged by volcanic eruptions during the Middle Ages and again in the 1970s. You'll want to see the Anfiteatro Flavio (Flavius Amphitheater), Italy's third largest, that held 40,000 spectators. It hosts evening concerts in the summer.

Baia was perhaps the greatest Ancient Roman resort of them all. All the big shots including Caesar, Nero, and Tiberius had a home away from home in Baia. Cleopatra was visiting when Julius Caesar met his untimely end. For many people part of Baia's attraction was its thermal, mineral waters famous for their healing powers. Local excavations include the Temple of Mercury, the Baths of Mercury, the Baths of Sosandra, with the semicircular Theater of the Nymphs and a statue of Sosandra, the Temple of Venus, and the Baths of Venus.

Cumae was perhaps the first Greek colony on the Italian mainland, founded in the Eighth Century B. C. You'll want to see Antro della Sibilla (Sibyl's Cave) considered by many people to be the most romantic classical site in all Italy. This cave, almost five hundred feet (one hundred thirty one meters) long, was carved out of solid rock. According to legend Sibyl was a prophet granted almost eternal life (as many years as the grains of sand in her handful) but she sadly forgot to request eternal youth. As she aged she shriveled and shriveled; her body fit into a bottle that hung from a tree. She interspersed her prophecies with pleas for death.

Most present Cumae is underground. Make sure to see Lago d'Averno (Lake Avernus), a volcanic crater lake that the Romans considered the entrance to Hades (Hell). According to legend, birds flying over the lake would die from the poisonous fumes. It was on these shores that Virgil wrote The Aeneid. Let's assume he didn't inhale.

Right near the coast you'll find Procida, a densely populated island with about eleven thousand people jam packed into two square miles. This is about one third the population density of Hong Kong but Procida is the most densely populated island in all Europe. Yet Procida is beautiful and relatively undiscovered when compared to the other islands off the coast of Campania. Try not to miss the Good Friday procession, an annual event since 1627. The island and its small fishing village Corricella were featured in the films Il Postino and The Talented Mr. Ripley, filmed in many Campania locations including the island of Ischia, described next.

We will finish our tour of this sometimes lovely area west of Naples at the island of Ischia, probably inhabited for thousands of years. Its almost sixty thousand inhabitants including thousands of German citizens most of whom make a living from tourism thanks to an estimated six million visitors a year. No, this is not one of the undiscovered gems that pop up from time to time. Over the millennial Ischia endured many conquests. Among the worst was in the mid-Sixteenth Century when the pirate Barbarossa devastated the island, taking four thousand prisoners in the process.

The Castello Aragonese (Aragonese Castle) is Ischia's most heavily visited monument. It was built on a rock near the so-called mainland somewhat less than 2500 years ago. In 1441 the castle was linked to the island by a stone bridge. The nearby beach is fine and its waters may heal your ailments.

The La Mortella gardens belonged to the British composer William Walton and his Argentinean wife Susana, 23 years his junior. It is home to several thousand rare Mediterranean plants. After visiting the garden you can climb the long dormant volcano, Monte Epomeo, bathe in the Giardini Poseidon Terme (Poseidon Gardens Spa), or take a short boat trip to the village of Sant' Angelo on the southern coast.

What about food? Volcanic soil makes food tasty and plentiful and gives wine a special zest. The regional focus is on vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes are served every which way, including pizza and spaghetti of course. You should really taste the mozzarella cheese, made from the milk of water buffalo.

Let's suggest a sample menu, one of many. Start with Nero di Seppia (Spaghetti with Black Squid Ink). Then try Coniglio all'Ischitana (Rabbit simmered with Tomatoes). For dessert indulge yourself with Strufoli (Honey Balls). Be sure to increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with your meal.

We conclude with a quick look at Campania wine. Campania ranks 9th among the 20 Italian regions for both acreage devoted to wine grapes and for total annual wine production. The region produces about 64% red and and close to 36% white wine, as there is little rosé. There are17 DOC wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine. The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is no guarantee that such wines are truly superior. Only 2.8% of Campania wine carries the DOC or DOCG designation. The G stands for Guarantita, and you'll find three, the red Taurasi, the white Greco di Tufo, and the white Fiano di Avellino. I have tasted the Fiano and found it to be top of the line. A single DOC wine is produced west of Naples; the Ischia DOC whose region covers the entire island of Ischia and is made from a variety of local grapes. This wine may be red or white. The red may be dry or sweet, while the white may be still or sparkling. Frankly, I'd go with the Fiano di Avellino.

About the Author
Levi Reiss has authored alone or with a co-author ten books on computers and the Internet but he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He knows about dieting but now eats and drinks what he wants, in moderation. He teaches various computer classes in an Ontario French-language community college. His new wine, diet, health, and nutrition website http://www.wineinyourdiet.com links to his other sites.
Alpirsbach Monastery: Medieval Sandstone Island PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vicki Landes   
Nov 03, 2007 at 08:55 PM
Attracting droves of tourists every year, Europe promises the ancient, the diverse, and the completely fascinating. Most travelers scurry past the major sites and cram in as much as possible in order to get through a list of 'must sees'.

Unfortunately, much is overlooked due to lack of time and money while the infinite unique treasures sometimes hidden for the resourceful traveler remain undiscovered and unappreciated. Not that visits to the key attractions should be dissuaded! On the contrary, I'm simply inviting the European travelers to dig a little deeper into their destination country and find the gems that will make them smile as they recall them even decades later. Remember and celebrate the taste of a fresh German pretzel, the sweet smell of the air in a Tuscan vineyard, or the baby soft petals in a colorful field of Dutch tulips.

Savor an entire spectrum of sensory bliss as you skip from one country to the next, searching for that tiny unique detail that you will fondly relish for the rest of your life.

Nestled in the Northern Black Forest, Alpirsbach Monastery echoes with the souls that once worshipped within its walls. While clinging to a forgotten time with a white-knuckled grip, the monastery boasts a 900-year history beautifully kept intact while the world outside changed and modernized.

Founded in 1095, the Benedictine monastery easily humbles the proud and quiets the boisterous. Upon entering its doors with the massive brass lion doorknockers, it's evident that this is a sanctuary of sanctuaries. The red sandstone beams warm tones during the day and leaps to an almost blinding glow as the sun begins to set. Sandstone bricks lay in a herringbone pattern in the church, making this hall of worship anything but plain. High, medieval ceilings and colorful stained glass above the simple alter add to the ambiance of respect and subservience.

As with many monasteries, Alpirsbach has magnificent cloisters which lead out to a square courtyard. Cloisters give a sense of openness to the closed-off building as the outer façade has no glass. Now, ivy twists and turns through the intricately carved stone windows, bringing life to the empty reverberations in the hallways. All kinds of weather intrude from the courtyard, bringing the outside in - whether sunshine, rain, or snow.

Alpirsbach is famous for its beer. Look for the stone statue of the little monk - his protruding belly bears witness that he's had a few too many. He stands near the entrance of the beer museum, which walks visitors through the history of its brewing. Beer was important to everyday life; not only did it provide a source of income for the monastery but it was considered 'purified water.' During this time, water was considered to be a carrier of disease. Europeans believed that the alcohol in beer and wine killed whatever was in the water that made people sick so it was important to consume some regularly. 'A pint a day keeps the pneumonia away...'

Monasteries such as Alpirsbach are a joy to visit because they aren't overflowing with tourists. Instead, you can wander to your heart's content as the only living soul while listening to the deafening silence. Rub your hands on the cool stone walls and pillars, which have been worn smooth over the last almost-1000 years. Just as this hallowed place once sheltered monks from the outside world, it continues to provide an escape from the overcrowded attractions. Peaceful, hushed, and reverent.

About the Author
Vicki Landes is the author and photographer of Europe for the Senses, a Photographic Journal. She has been soaking up Europe for the last six years and has visited 42 countries. Learn more at http://europeforthesenses.com/
A Luxury Holiday In Oman At The Al Jissah Resort and Spa PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter R Stewart   
Nov 03, 2007 at 08:52 PM
The Al Jissah Resort & Spa is the ideal affordable family vacation package as well as being a the best place to take a luxury holiday in Oman.

The Al Jissah Resort & Spa consists of the Exclusive Al Husn rated at 6 stars [The Castle], Al Bandar [The Town] rated at 5 star, and Al Waha [The Oasis] which is 4 star, and very much for the family vacation package.

This Shangri-La Hotel and Resort has a fantastic location in over 120 acres with mountains behind, and a private beach of golden sand in front with the blue water of the Gulf of Oman to provide the icing on the cake.

This is a large Resort at Al Jissah, with the exclusive Al Husn with 180 suites and guestrooms, Al Bandar with 198 rooms and the Al Waha with 302 rooms.

All of the 680 rooms and suites face the sea and overlook the 600 yard beach.

It is the first three hotel luxury resort both for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and for the country of Oman.

There are a wide range of leisure facilities within the complex and this includes three freshwater swimming pools, and to connect the Al Waha Family oriented hotel to the Al Bandar is a lazy river. When you add to this four tennis courts, a PADI dive centre, a fitness centre, the Little Turtles Kids Club based at Al Waha, which is one of the main reasons this This Shangri-La Hotel and Resort is the ideal family vacation package, you can begin to realize what is on offer.

When you add on the chance to not only go snorkelling, but even dolphin and whale watching trips can be arranged, and at certain times of the year turtles come up onto the beach to lay their eggs, and the Turtle Ranger will take trips to see this.

The Al Jissah Resort & Spa has the renowned Chi Spa with some of the largest and most luxurious spa suites you will find anywhere in Oman, and a Turkish Bath, an ice room, a sauna, steam rooms and a jacuzzi.

Everybody visits the Omani Heritage Village where you can soak up the atmosphere of a retail souk, and you can experience life in a traditional Oman village. This will include demonstrations by silversmiths, henna painting, weaving to add to the authentic feel. If you want to visit Muscat then there is a daily complimentary shuttle.

The Al Jissah Resort & Spa complex has twenty restaurants and bars, so guests are spoilt for choice. There are six main restaurants and seven more casual food outlets. You can add to this three pool bars, a night club, and two bars so you really can't go wrong, as there is something to suit everyone's taste.

For dining, guests are spoilt for choice with 6 main restaurants, 7 casual dining outlets, 3 pool bars, a nightclub and 2 bars providing sumptuous local and international cuisine to suit all tastes.

Any good family vacation package to a luxury hotel should have restaurants that all the family can enjoy.

The Samba is outstanding in this regard because there is a chocolate fountain for the kids and unlimited oysters and mussels on ice for starters. Apart from this there is a huge selection of dishes, and this restaurant is the ideal spot for huge and varied breakfasts.

The surf bar and pool bar are good for burgers and salads, and the fish restaurant between Al Waha and Al Bandar has top class fish at decent prices.

This is a good all year round destination, but the temperature in July and August is pretty fierce, but then some like it hot, the expect extreme temperatures in Jul and Aug but prices will be lower then and the Al Jissah Resort & Spa less busy.

A final note about this top of the range luxury Oman hotel is the staff, who are very good indeed, being helpful courteous, friendly, and have very good language skills.

Go to Oman and stay at the Al Jissah Resort & Spa.

About the Author
Peter Stewart writes about in Kenya safaris as well as worldwide vacation spots. He also recommends travel tennis a great game to play on holiday.
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