Monthly Archives: January 2014

The High Life On A Shoestring: Cape Town vs. New York City

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Nobody doubts the cultural and fine living credentials of New York City, one of the major crossroads of the world.  With world-class theatre, superb dining options that span every global cuisine imaginable, and hotels that grant incredible vistas from just about any room, the Big Apple seemingly has it all.

As long as you bring cash.

And lots of it.

Despite your tastes for the best that the world has to offer, a recent trip to Gotham was causing you some palpable pain in the pocketbook, and you’re actually doing rather well for yourself in your career!  This realization has given way to a fair bit of soul searching, where the question being meditated upon is: Can there be a place in the world that can deliver on a grand scale without leaving a smoking hole in one’s purse/wallet?

The answer to this question can be found on a continent that is typically forgotten by most when one seeks a city that offers up the accoutrements of the good life.  That continent is Africa, and the location that we are focusing on today is none other than the spectacular seaside city of Cape Town, South Africa.

Ever since the ethical roadblock of apartheid was lifted 20 years ago this year, this place has slowly begun to be noticed by jetsetters from around the world as a place where one can live richly on a shoe string.  Let’s contrast Cape Town with NYC, so we can make a compelling place for this stunning metropolis! If you’re considering relocating, Budget Direct has put together a great cost of living index which we’re sure you’ll enjoy.

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Food

Fine dining comes so cheap in the flagship city of South Africa that you may end up indulging in it too much for your own good.  A multi-course meal here will run you $30 per person, while the same splurge in New York will cost you at least $75! For those looking for international cuisine with a South African interpretation, be sure to try Ashton’s Restaurant at Greenways before heading back to your home base.

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Accommodations

The deals keep right on coming when it comes to the luxurious dens where you will make your temporary home in Cape Town.  4-star accommodations start as low as $65 per person, while 5-star luxury is also attainable at a sub $100 per night rate, with the boutique lodging known as the Jambo Guesthouse posting a rate of $86 per night.

Back in NYC, those looking for at least four stars will have to shell out a minimum of $190 for a bed, with average four star prices in the mid to upper $200’s. Tip for New York bound travelers: watch for flash deals on popular online booking sites prior to your trip.

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Entertainment

While Cape Town may not be the cultural nexus that New York or London is with regards to the theatre industry, it still has a vibrant performing arts scene that is definitely worth experiencing on its own merits. Tickets to individual shows can be had for as little as $7-8, while prime seats for big theatre shows cost about $40 or so. Your average ticket price to get into a Broadway musical in New York costs at least $94 for the worst seat in the house, while season tickets to the opera in Cape Town will run you no more than $120 if you snag the early-bird deal!

While many of the pleasures of New York City are expensive, one gets a lot for what they pay in many cases.  However, NYC does not have a monopoly on being able to live the high life, and a quick journey to Cape Town in South Africa will prove that point handily.

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The Ultimate Culture Crawl: Visiting The Cities of Lycian Turkey

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Likya Antik Kaya Mezarlari, Antalya, Türkiye (Ancient Lycian Roc

While you have looked forward to your trip to the Turquoise Coast of Turkey for a long time, it isn’t for exactly the same reasons as most people coming here.  While you will more your fair share of soaking up the eastern Mediterranean sun this summer, you will be busy on most days exploring the cultural treasures of Lycian Turkey.

A people that were exiled here several millennia ago from Crete by Minos, they reorganized their society here, with the remnants of their ancient lives still visible in the area to this day.  In order to arrive in this culture rich region without having to deal with the hassle of overland travel from Istanbul, be sure to book flights to Dalaman (http://book.flythomascook.com/cheap-flights/to-Dalaman-Turkey/) instead of heading to Turkey’s biggest city.

Doing so will free up more time to explore the sights that await you throughout the Lycian portion of Turkey. In the following paragraphs, we will be discussing the top destinations that you should hit on this action-packed trip to a country often referred to as a crossroads of ancient civilizations.

Start by heading to Marmaris, where the primary attraction is a 17th century castle that shares its name with the nearby city.  Though the present incarnation was built 300 years ago by Sultan Suleyman to serve as a defensive hedge to protect his lands while on a long expedition to Rhodes in Greece, it is posited that forts and castles have existed on this spot as far back as 5,000 years.

When you’re done pretending to be royalty, head back into the city centre, browse through the expensive boutiques and maybe pick something cute if the price is right, then look smashing as you hit the beach or the club, where foreign tourists often mingle with the nouveau riche of this country.

Once you’ve had your fill of Marmaris, hop a ferry for the town of Dalyan, where the ancient ruins of the city of Caunos awaits you. Last active in the 3rd century AD, the standout attraction here are the Rock Tombs that are carved into the side of the towering cliffs in the area, containing the remains of people that have long since passed from the earth.  A short river connects a local lake to the sea, creating an ecosystem that makes for excellent birding, and warm mud baths also make for a relaxing end to the day in Dalyan.

Next up on the agenda is the city of Fethiye, which also contain rock tombs of its own if you’re game to scope out this type of ruin again.  If you’re seeking out some exercise at this point in the trip, the start of the Lycian Way, a multi-week trekking trail that works its way 510 kilometres up the coast towards Antalya.

Though you don’t nearly have that much time to explore this well-regarded path, you can still make an afternoon or a full day walk out of the initial portions of this hike, as it boasts incredible views of the coast from its elevated perch, as well as scattered pockets of architectural remains of the ancient Lycian civilization.

Those who are sweating at the thought of all this walking can still check out some artifacts from the past by checking out a Roman ruin called the  Fethiye Amphitheatre, one of many stadiums the Romans built to entertain the masses long ago.

Finally, make time for the city of Kaş before departing for home, as it has plentiful remnants from days gone by, and a beach scene to salt your time away in if you’re all cultured out.  If you are still good to go, make an effort to see the acropolis in the hills above the city, and a trip to the sunken Lycian city in Kekova Sound will be cause for contemplation as you view places where people once lived on dry land, now covered by the watery depths of the Mediterranean.

Turkey has much in store for the culture hunter, even in its more touristy regions.  By taking some days away from the beach and leaving the traveler ghettoes to explore the area, you’ll find a world that once bustled and lived for the moment, with only physical traces and spotty written records left to tell their story.

The Ultimate Guide To Orlando’s Disney Theme Parks

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After working hard all last year to save up enough money, you and your thrilled kids are ready for the ultimate family vacation.  This spring, you plan on visiting what is said to be the happiest place on Earth, the Disney theme parks located just outside of Orlando, Florida in the United States.  However, this place just isn’t Walt Disney World, as they have built four other parks in addition to that classic concept that has proven very successful over the years. Read the rest of this entry

Tempting Lady Luck: World’s Best Gambling Destinations

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During the course of one’s daily life, we jump through hoops and stay within the lines as prescribed by society. While this typically results in a stable and comfortable life, the mundane nature of this existence is enough to drive some people crazy.

You crave excitement from time to time, whether it comes from trying out extreme sports like bungee jumping or hang-gliding, sampling new exotic cuisine from different cultures, or wagering a set amount of money in the hopes of striking it big at your local casino.

The latter activity, when done responsibly, provides a good spot of entertainment, and provided that Lady Luck is smiling favourably upon you, could result in you heading back home with more money than when you left the house on Friday afternoon.  With your next big trip coming up soon, you want to mix in a journey to one of the world’s best gambling destinations.

We have three excellent suggestions to help you accomplish this objective, as listed below…

1) Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

This destination is the obvious choice of the bunch, but it’s not without good reason.  Ever since the early parts of the 20th century, Las Vegas has guided its growth to become the adult entertainment capital of the world. On the strip alone, there are 31 casinos waiting for you to take your lucky shot at table games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat.

The ever-present clang of slot machines permeate the air within these dens, and if you visit during June and July, you can watch your favourite poker stars battle for supremacy on the felt at the World Series of Poker … or if you can pony up at least $1,000, you can try to match wits with them!

2) Macau, China

If you find yourself on the other side of the Pacific, be sure to take a ferry ride across to Macau from Hong Kong to experience the hottest betting destination in Asia.  After fuelling up on Portuguese egg tarts, head to the iconic Grand Lisboa casino, which dominates the skyline in this part of town where it is located.

Finding a place to play blackjack will prove relatively easy, as the gaming pit here has capacity for over 800 tables.  Being at the centre for the expansion of live Texas Hold’em poker in Asia, the Grand Lisboa was the first to offer up the game here, but they have since closed their room, so heading to the Wynn here is your best option to give you a chance to pit your skills against a field that is mostly novice in nature, vastly increasing your chances of walking away from Macau with a fatter wallet.

3) Monaco

For those that associate a night at the casino with channeling your inner James Bond, a trip to the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco is a bucket list item that you should endeavour to tick off in 2014. A game that is popular here is Trente et Quarante, which is a card game that pits a player against the dealer, where cards are dealt until a range between 30 and 40 (Trente et Quarante = 30 and 40 in English).  If the final score holds versus the dealer, the player wins.

Across the world, there are exciting locales where those with an appetite for risk can head in with a stake and emerge with a big payday, or at least a great story. As long as one stay within their limits and plays responsibly, a night out in one of the world’s best gambling destinations is bound to be one that will be remembered with fondness for years to come!

Three Awesome River Cruises In Europe

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Over the past decade, after getting your foot in the door as an intern at your company (read: glorified latte fetcher), your career has advanced to the point where you are making a very respectable sum of money for the value you create on the job. To get to this point, you’ve had to sacrifice a lot: working until 10 in the evening, attending evening classes to stay on top of your field, and most of all, foregoing vacations to propel your rocket ship to the higher echelons of the corporate world. Read the rest of this entry

Thrilling Theme Parks In Orlando

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You’re about to take your family on a legendary vacation to the theme park hub of Orlando, Florida, and you’re excited.  You’ll be getting away from the stubborn cold that refuses to let go after a few long months of winter thus far, and your kids will get to play every day at a plethora of theme parks. Read the rest of this entry