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The Travel Map -

The Travel Map - July 2008

DisneyWorld fun in Orlando

July 27th 2008 10:48
For those who are looking for a fun filled holiday with or without the kids Orlando Florida in the USA is a great option. With its legendary theme parks, there is plenty of fun and excitement to keep the whole family entertained for a few weeks. The most well known park is Disneyworld.

Often when people think of Disney World or Disneyland, they are thinking of The Magic Kingdom. What some people do not realise is that there are a number of amusement parks owned by Walt Disney World, of which The Magic Kingdom is just one. Other parks include; Epcot, the Animal; Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon.

Of the Disney Parks, I have visited The Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and The Magic Kingdom. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are water parks if you want more information on these see: Really Long Link
Really Long Link

The Animal Kingdom was one of my favourites in terms of the Disney Parks, because I love Animals, and you get a chance for some up close encounters. The best part was the Safari. You ride in an open vehicle through the Park where a number of African animals wander freely. If you do the ride once in the morning and once in that afternoon, you get to see different animals each time, depending on which ones are out.

Giraffe at animal kingdom
Giraffe at Animal Kingdom

There are plenty of other animals in the park as well. If you have children, take them to the ‘affection section’ where they get the opportunity to have an up-close encounter with farm animals.

There are also a number of great shows such as “Its tough to be a bug”, where you put on 3D glasses and watch a show about the life as bug. Parts of it were very realistic, was so scared by the spiders that I had to take my glasses off; I sat through most of the show with my eyes closed. Do not let that put you off though I have arachnophobia.

Although the focus of this park is on animals, there are some great rides such as the Kali River Rapids. Here you raft along a raging river through a rain forest. Beware you will get wet so go on a warm day. There are also a few rollercoaster’s and a high-speed train adventure.

We spent half a day at Epcot as opposed to the other parks where we spent a day or more. This park is more of a learning centre than a park full of thrilling rides. It is broken into two distinct areas – Future World and World Showcase. In future world, you get to preview products of the future designed by the imaginers’ at Disney. In World Showcase there are pavilions representing different countries of the world. In each of the countries, you can taste the cuisine or view the architecture of that country. This park is more suited to older kids and adults.

The Magic Kingdom Park is the most well known of the Disney Parks and is the most suitable for younger children. There are a number of milder rides suitable for young children and plenty of great places to visit such as Mickey Mouse’s House.

Disney world

Thrill seekers do not despair; there is plenty for you as well. One of the best rides in the Magic Kingdom is Splash Mountain. You are taken on a log flume into the mountain where you travel through many tunnels and caves. There are several drops along the way, with a big drop at the end. A word of warning you will probably get wet on this ride. The worst place for a soaking is at the front, but nowhere is completely safe, so make sure you go on a warm day. Other great rides are Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain and Buzz Lightyears Space Rangers Spin.

Splash Mountain
Splash mountain

I visited Orlando in the spring, which I think is the best time to go it is before the summer holidays in the US. I also did most of the parks during the week, so the queues were not too bad. There are a number of cheap motels on International Drive Orlando and most of them provide free shuttles to the parks.

Next, I will review Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and MGM Studios. For more information on the Disney Parks, go to Really Long Link

The Arts District - New Orleans

July 23rd 2008 02:27
Who knew that New Orleans had one of the best Art districts in the United States? It all began back in 1975 with the development of the Contemporary Arts Centre in the run down Warehouse district.

The Warehouse District dates back to the 19th century when it was an industrial area used to store grain, coffee, and produce being shipped through the port of New Orleans. As trade and commerce developed, the area was abandoned and the once busy streets became deserted.

Since the Contemporary Arts Centre first opened, it has set the scene with large exhibitions by local artists that attracted large crowds back into the area. It also exhibits a wide variety of art by national and international artists. As well as the eclectic collection of artwork, there are also a number of music and theatre performances.

Now many other warehouses in the area have been converted into hotels restaurants and museums, making the area that was once full of abandoned warehouses into a major tourist district.

Contemporary Arts Centre

Across the road from the Contemporary Arts Centre is the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The building itself is considered one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the South, with five floors and 47,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Museum that was founded after philanthropist and businessman Roger H Ogden donated more than 1200 pieces of Southern Art, now includes paintings, watercolours and sculptures representing Southern Art.

There are also a number of museums in the area including The National World War II museum, which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in New Orleans. The museum, which includes personal accounts and artefacts, recounts the war from an American perspective.

With plenty of Art galleries, museums and restaurants in the area the New Orleans Art District there is something to suit everyone’s taste.

When someone mentions New Orleans, most people think of the birthplace of jazz, or perhaps rowdy parties on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. However, there is so much more to the ‘Quarter’ (as the locals call it), than just the nightlife.

Take a stroll around the French Quarter by day, and check out some of the amazing buildings whose archetitecure dates back to the 1700s, when Louisiana was a French Royal colony. The buildings are a beautiful mix of French and Spanish designs. Some of these old homes are now open to the public, offering visitors the opportunity to see how residents of New Orleans lived in that time.

Street in French Quarter
Street in French Quarter

At the centre of the French Quarter is Jackson Square, which is a good place to start your explorations of the area. The Square is named after Andrew Jackson who led the United States to victory in the battle of New Orleans. It is also home to many open-air artists who display their works on the wrought iron fences that surround the Square. Many visitors have had their portrait painted by one of the local artists.

Overlooking the Square is St Louis Cathedral, one of the longest continuously active cathedrals in the US. First built in 1726 the cathedral has been rebuilt twice, once due to fire and once due to hurricane damage. The current cathedral dates back to the 1850s.

St Louis Cathedral New Orleans
St Louis Cathedral New Orleans

The buildings on either side of the cathedral are called Cabildo and the Presbytere. The Cabildo was where the French and the Americans signed the documents for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Nowadays it is now a museum showing exhibits of Louisiana history.

The Prestybere, which was completed in 1831, was originally designed as home for the Capuchin monks. This building is also a museum displaying much of New Orleans Mardi Gras memorabilia, from rare historic artefacts to magnificent gowns.

On the opposite side of Jackson Square are redbrick buildings dating back to the 1840s, now home to a number of shops and restaurants on the lower floors, and private residences on the upper floors.

Just a short walk from Jackson Square along North Peters Street is the New Orleans Jazz National Park. The park provides information about the history and people involved in the evolution of Jazz. There is also an indoor and outdoor stage for live performances.

Further along North Peters St is the French Markets, which has existed since 1791, and is one of the oldest markets in America. The markets have a lot of locally made jewellery, but you will find many other things as well such as paintings and clothing. It is also a great place to buy spices or fresh vegetables from the local farmers.

There are many great bars and restaurants around the city, but to limit yourself to the nightlife on Bourbon Street would mean missing out on the beauty and historical significance of one of the oldest cities in America.

A Beginners Guide to New York

July 14th 2008 05:19
I love New York City, the melting pot of different cultures makes it one of the most lively and diverse cities in the world. There is so much history to be discovered, and sights to be visited it is hard to know where to start. Here some ideas for first time visitors.

A great place to start is in the heart of Manhattan with a visit to Times Square. In Times Square, you will find many hotels, and restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. You can shop for anything from clothes, to electronics, to toys. It is also a great place to pick up a tour to other parts of the city. There are many entertainment venues where you can see anything from a stand up comedy to a Broadway Musical

[ Click here to read more ]

Central Park is one of the best things about New York. The park spans 350ha between 59th street and 110th Street Manhattan.

Originally, Central Park was designed to provide an oasis for New Yorkers to escape the noisy city. The park is now popular among locals and tourists alike, and it is easy to see why. Once in the park I was surprised at how peaceful it was. I could no longer hear the constant tooting of car horns and shouting that is so common in Manhattan

[ Click here to read more ]

Union Square San Francisco

July 7th 2008 06:11
If you love shopping, a visit to Union Square in San Francisco is a must. It has all the big names in fashion as well as great cafes and restaurants all in one area.
Regardless of taste or budget, there is something for everyone here from middle of the road stores such as Macys and Gap, to high-end stores such as Fifth Avenue, Christian Dior and Ralph Lauren.

[ Click here to read more ]

Escape to Alcatraz

July 2nd 2008 04:33
A visit to the world famous Alcatraz is like being transported back in time for a day. Alcatraz has a rich history. It started out as home to one of America’s first lighthouses, it then became a military fort in 1853, then a maximum-security prison in the 1930s.

The prison closed in 1963 due to the high running costs. The land was unused until the 1969 when American Indians seized it in a land dispute. Now it is a National Park visited by thousands of tourists every year

[ Click here to read more ]

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