4 Things You Can’t Miss on Your First Visit to Jacksonville

The following article was originally published on awesometravelling.com on 4/6/18.

With its oceanside location and exciting attractions, it’s no surprise that Jacksonville is a top Florida destination. If you’re heading to this city in the First Coast region for the first time, be sure to add these attractions to your itinerary.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

One of the city’s top attractions is Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. With more than 2,000 rare and exotic animals and 1,000 plant varieties, it has plenty for visitors to explore. The zoo exhibits focus on various regions, including the plains of East Africa and Australian Outback. Jaguars, apes, giraffes, tigers, stingrays, bobcats, and elephants are just some of the many animals you’ll encounter as you explore the zoo.

Consider checking out the calendar of events before you visit. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens often hosts fun activities, like scavenger hunts, after-dark events, and conservation speakers. There are plenty of affordable Jacksonville hotels located nearby if you’re looking for a place to stay.

Jacksonville-Area Beaches

Some of Florida’s best beaches can be found in Jacksonville, so take advantage of the chance to see the gorgeous white sand and clear ocean waters. There are a number of popular beaches in the area, so you have plenty of options when it comes to finding the right fit for your trip.

Atlantic Beach is a great choice if you like a relaxed, laid-back vibe and the opportunity for shelling. Jacksonville Beach is known for its excellent surfing conditions along with plenty of restaurants, shops, and activities available near the water. For jaw-dropping sunsets and sunrises, head to Neptune Beach. Beachfront accommodations can be pricey, but you can save by staying at one of the hotels near the University of North Florida, which is just a short drive inland.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

A trip to Jacksonville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, one of the 12 flagship breweries this company has in the U.S. And thanks to a number of affordable hotels near the Jacksonville Anheuser-Busch Brewery, you can stay close to this popular attraction.

There are a number of tour options at the brewery, but the Beermaster Tour is highly recommended since it offers a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing of Budweiser; it even includes a sample of beer taken directly from a finishing tank. Another fun option is the Beer School, where you get to learn about beer styles, ingredients, pouring techniques, and food pairings.

Tree Hill Nature Center

Take a day to explore Jacksonville’s exquisite natural surroundings with a visit to the Tree Hill Nature Center. This wilderness preserve covers more than 50 acres and features plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained. You can explore miles of walking trails, visit the butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and view native animals like turtles, snakes, owls, alligators, and pygmy goats.

The preserve also features the Florida Natural History Museum. Explore the many hands-on displays and check out the Florida Wetland exhibit room. The area surrounding the preserve is especially scenic, so consider staying at one of the hotels near the Tree Hill Nature Center.

If this is your first visit to the area, see the many exciting things Jacksonville has to offer by checking out these attractions.

4 Cheap Things to Do in Tucson

The following article was originally published on awesometravelling.com on 4/6/18.

Whether you’re passing through for a night or spending your entire holiday in one spot, Tucson has plenty of entertainment and attractions to keep you busy, especially if you’re traveling on a budget. With affordable activities and other low-cost options, you won’t break the bank on your visit to this Arizonan town. Here are a few suggestions to guide you though your budget-friendly trip to Tucson.

University of Arizona Sporting Events

With average ticket prices to professional sporting events hovering between $31 and $92, going to a game isn’t an option for a shoestring budget. Fortunately, the excitement of collegiate games is on par with professional sports, but at a fraction of the cost. The University of Arizona has 18 varsity sports, giving you a range of choices for entertainment. Popular sports include football, basketball, baseball, and softball, but you can also grab a ticket for under $10 to watch golf or sand volleyball.

If you’re a fan of University of Arizona football, don’t miss a game at the legendary Arizona Stadium. With seven home games each year, you can choose between regular season games or early-season, non-conference matchups. Tickets vary depending on the opponent, but you can get in the door for $20 to $30.

When that’s outside your budget, you still have other options to get your fix of football. Book a hotel near Arizona Stadium to take part in the tailgating festivities or to explore the lobby and the grounds of the stadium.

Turquoise Trail

Stretching 2.5 miles through downtown Tucson, the Turquoise Trail is a free yet fun and informative way to spend a day in the city. Beginning at the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson, this easy-to-walk loop takes you by the most important historical sites, buildings, and other areas.

If you stay in downtown Tucson, hopping on the trail is easy. Just look for the turquoise stripe painted on the sidewalk or grab a map at the Tucson Visitors Bureau at 811 North Euclid Avenue.

Discover Tucson’s Natural Beauty

Nestled in a valley amidst five mountain ranges, Saguaro National Park, and several state and local parks, Tucson’s natural beauty is undeniable. The rocky terrain is ideal for climbing and mountain biking, while the height of the mountains provides excellent hiking and photography opportunities, all at zero cost to you.

Tucson also has seven designated dog parks within the city limits and several more in neighboring towns. Pet-friendly hotels are everywhere, and you’re sure to find one close to a park you’ll love.

Tucson Convention Center

Comprised of a two theaters, a 9,000-seat arena, and 205,000 square feet of floor space, the Tucson Convention Center always has something going on, including events on the cheap. The Tucson Roadrunners, an American Hockey League team, has promotions such as $1 food nights, $2 beer nights, and tickets as low as $16.

Other affordable events at the convention center include Tucson Symphony concerts, local plays and musicals, and conventions throughout the year. If you pick the right hotel and weekend, you can do it all without spending extra on transportation.

No matter what you decide to do in Tucson on the cheap, you’ll find a warm, inviting city that invites you to return year after year.

The Best Things to Do in Monterey, California

The following article was originally published on backpackingworldwide.com.

The central coast of California is a beautiful place to visit and is one of my favorite places to enjoy the Californian sun. Monterey is one of your best bets for a great time on the central coast, and I enjoy visiting as often as I can. I have written this article to give you all a taste of what is on offer in one of my favorite parts of California.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

This beautiful Aquarium is home to many species of marine life. Here you can see stingrays, jellyfish, sea turtles, and sharks, just to name a few. Aside from simply seeing the classic aquarium tanks that we are all used to when we think of an aquarium, there are a number of interesting and interactive exhibitions to enjoy with a number of other types of animals, like reptiles and birds. You should definitely take a tour too to learn more about the local wildlife and hopefully something new!

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Located not too far from the Monterey Conference Center, this quaint little seaside village is one of the more unexpected places that you are likely to visit in Monterey. From the outside, it looks like a place that is rather placid with some small shops and cafes. But there really is more to it than that. It is full of chic designer shops, gourmet restaurants, and a number of art galleries. The beach is definitely the place to be, and you will find a number of Monterey’s famous residents there too! This is one of my personal favorite places in Monterey, so be sure to have a look at this great spot.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

This reserve is only a short way south of Carmel-by-the-Sea and is somewhere that you need to have on your bucket list. The beautiful rock formations here rise majestically from the ocean and are naturally the focal point of this nature reserve. These are complemented by the various hiking trails of varying difficulties, the groves of twisted and gnarled cypress trees, and the various diving sites in the area. I love this place for its variety and the fact that it truly has something for everyone looking for a beautiful sight or some adventure.

Monterey Fairgrounds

The Monterey Fairgrounds are situated in the very heart of Monterey and are a place that comes to life with a number of local and international events. This is also the site of the annual Monterey county fair, which is a wonderful place to enjoy carnival rides, games, and amazing food as well as the opportunity to learn a bit more about the local area and its unique heritage and agriculture. There are also a number of other fun events at the fairgrounds too, including the Reggae Festival, Jazz Festival, and the California Roots Music Festival. There should be an event to enjoy any time of the year here, so be sure to do a little bit of research before you travel.

Winter Activities Near O’Hare International Airport

The following article was originally published on openroadbeforeme.com by Nathan Anderson on 12/18/17.

Chicago is famous for many things, from its sports teams and stadiums to the blustery weather, which has earned it the moniker of The Windy City. It is the home of the deep dish pizza and the Sears Tower and was the base of Al Capone in his heyday. It is a fascinating place, and many people are keen to visit the city center.  But the areas surrounding the city itself are full of history and things to do, and it’s a shame to miss out on all they have to offer. Here are some winter activities near O’Hare International Airport you can do before or after you explore the heart of The Windy City.

Winter Activities in Rosemont

Rosemont is a small suburb of Chicago bordering the airport.  Home of the Chicago Wolves, it’s a great spot to catch a professional hockey game anytime from December through mid-April. If you’re not into sports, check out the Rosemont Theatre for events and concerts — they happen throughout the year.

MB Financial Park, a 200,000-square-foot entertainment and dining complex, has a huge amount of activities on offer. Check out Zanies Comedy Club for some good laughs or Kings Dining and Entertainment for the chance to follow up a tasty dinner with bowling. You can even go skydiving (indoors) with iFly; talk about an all-inclusive vacation!

Winter Activities in Park Ridge

On the other side of the Des Plaines River from Rosemont is Park Ridge, an area conveniently connected to the city center by train. With numerous wooded areas including the Iroquois and Chippewa Woods to explore and relax, it offers plenty for outdoor enthusiasts willing to brave the cold.  If the weather is too frigid and you want to stay indoors, head over to the Pickwick Theater — built in 1928 — and enjoy a classic American cinema experience. There are a number of hotel options in the area if you choose to make this your base.

A not-to-be-missed spot is the Beer on the Wall beer cafe with its massive selection of tapped and bottled brews, as well as the board games and old Nintendo it has available for the young at heart. What could be better on a cold winter night?

Winter Activities in Glenview

Finally, north of both Rosemont and Park Ridge is Glenview, a suburb with parks and fields aplenty and bordered on either side by wooded areas. Check out the Camp Pine or Allison Woods for some walking paths and solace from the buzz of the town. Or head to the Glenview Ice Center for an afternoon of ice skating with friends.

Don’t miss The Grove, a parcel of prairie grove land set aside and maintained by the Parks District. Rich in both ecological and historical heritage, The Grove is open year round and provides a fascinating look at a side of Chicago many people never see.

Chicago is a great city to explore, but don’t get so caught up in the heart of the city that you miss what lies just beyond. Take some time to explore these areas near O’Hare International Airport, and let us know what you think!

 

Where to Stay, and What to See in Washington DC

The following article was published on calculatedtraveller.com by Mary Chong on 12/18/17.

Where to Stay, and What to See in Washington DC

When visiting the U.S. Capitol, you must include the national monuments and museums on your to-do list. Here are some suggestions of where to stay and what to see in Washington, D.C.

Alexandria, Virginia

When I’m in Washington, D.C., I normally stay in a hotel near Alexandria, Virginia, since there is easy access to Washington’s major tourist sites via the Metro, and many of the hotels here offer free parking. George Washington’s hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, charms visitors with its tree-lined cobblestone streets and early 19th-century architecture. Designated a historic district, Old Town Alexandria’s King Street features over 200 independently owned shops and restaurants.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Dedicated to the longest-running president in the USA, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is 7 acres in size with four rooms representing each term in office. Staying in a hotel near the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial provides easy access to transit, but it’s also a convenient walking distance to the other notable sites along the National Mall.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is dedicated to the third U.S. president and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. The memorial is the best spot to see the cherry blossom trees in spectacular full bloom if you are visiting Washington in the spring. Better yet, book a hotel near the Thomas Jefferson Memorial so you can wake up to the most beautiful view of the flowering trees! The area is within walking distance to all the major tourist sites, but it’s also perfect to enjoy the peacefulness and natural beauty of the Tidal Basin and surrounding parkland.

The Wharf District

The Wharf District is my favorite spot to go for seafood because it’s the location of the Municipal Fish Market, also known as Maine Avenue Fish Market. Locals come here to do their shopping, but most of the fishmongers offer freshly prepared seafood on the premises. Staying in a hotel near the George Mason Memorial allows for easy access to the Wharf District but also sights such as The National Mall, and the more than 20 museums of the Smithsonian. With nightlife, shopping, dining, water activities, and attractions, the Wharf District is a great area to check out.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is the largest military cemetery in the USA and is open daily for visitors. This cemetery isn’t located in Washington, D.C., but is across the Potomac River in nearby Arlington, Virginia. The location, out of the busy downtown core of Washington, has some affordable hotel accommodations that are easily accessible through a 15-minute Metro ride.

Arlington National Cemetery contains more than 400,000 internments. Guided tours, as well as free shuttle buses, are available to the most significant visitor sites such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Washington, D.C., offers rich history, top-notch museums, great shopping and food, and beautiful scenery. With so much to see and do in Washington, D.C., you really can’t do it all in only one visit!

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Where to Stay, and What to See in Washington D.C.

 

Most Common Facts about Flood & Insurance Policies

Wherever you live in the world, you know that the weather conditions are unpredictable. The cause is due to the increasing damage to the ozone layer and the environment of the earth. Natural calamities can happen anywhere and anytime in the world. If you are like most homeowners, you must have insurance to your assets like home, car etc., Did you know that not most insurance policies cover flood damage? A serious flood can cost tens of thousands of dollars if you do not have the insurance policy that covers flood damage as well.

Recently, Irma hurricane caused more than $100 billion damage to many parts of Florida and other areas, surpassing the record held by the famous Katrina that damaged assets of worth $50 billion in 2005. If you are planning to get an insurance policy but not considering covering the damage caused by flood, understanding common facts of flood damage will help you make a better decision. So, let met unwrap the most unknown facts about floods.

Devastating floods occur a lot more frequently that you would imagine. In fact, statistics show that flood occurs in every state of U.S. This means, no matter how lucky you have been in the past you are always at risk of your home being flooded. Additionally, most homeowners don’t have insurance policies with flood damage coverage. If you are planning to get an insurance policy, make sure you take this quiz to find out how flood damage policy can save you thousands of dollars. You can also visit Health IQ.com to learn more.

4 Key Leadership Skills in Higher Education and How to Develop Them

The leadership in higher education is as similar as leadership in the corporate world. The presidents, deans, and chancellors have same pressure and challenges as compared to CEOs of the companies. Leadership skills required a few qualities to face the challenges by the leader of an organization.

Developing qualities and skills totally depend upon the ones-self. The higher education makes you aware of the key skills of a leader but you need to develop that skills yourself to succeed in your career. Let’s discuss a few required qualities: –

Maintaining a journal

Maintaining a journal is like a hobby for a good leader. He can write about the good and bad. He can write about the areas where he has to work more and the areas where he is already performing well. Maintaining a journal will help him formulation of plans and policies.

Discipline

Discipline is key to every success. Discipline is not only necessary in the field of leadership rather it is important in the very aspect of life. The leader must be disciplined to be followed by others. The leader must be stick to his routine and follow the schedule properly so that he can ask others too to follow the same.

Better communication

A leader must be confident enough that his communication must be clear to all. What he wants to convey to his audience must clear to him as well as understood by his audience well. To bridge the gap between speaker and listener the Communication is the key. The higher education helps you in expressing yourself in the proper and effective way. If you deliver the message to your audience which you want to convey that means you have delivered better communication.

Calm and patient

The leader must be calm and patient. He must have quality for observing others first then conclude his decision. He must be calm to make the followers understand and well familiar with his plans and policies, he has made. Leadership in higher education helps in achieving hard goals with patience and make you calm.

When It’s Great to be a Woman in Italy

Yes, there might be sexism in Italy — even up to the highest levels of government. Yes, it might be so bad that primetime news shows routinely show half-naked women, that the country lags behind in every statistic from the gender gap in wages to the number of female politicians, and that a million women protested in a nationwide demonstration last month.

But at least this Tuesday, March 8, women get a break: For Festa della Donna, the traditional Italian holiday for women, all nationally-run monuments and museums will be free for females only. In Rome, that includes sites like the Colosseum and Palazzo Massimo.

Hey, it’s something. Ladies: Take advantage!

Hidden Underground, an Ornate, 2,000-Year-Old Sepulchre

I’ve done a lot of cool things in Rome — but visiting the Columbarium of Pomponio Hylas is one of the coolest.

And it’s one of Rome’s best-kept secrets.

First off, let’s debunk the idea that Christians were the only ones who got neat underground burial chambers in Rome. In fact, the practice of interring the dead below ground went back to the pagan Romans. One popular way to do this was with a columbarium — an underground chamber built and decorated to hold the urns of Romans’ ashes, either for one family or many. (Later, around the time of Trajan in the 2nd century, pagans would stop incinerating their dead and start burying whole bodies in catacombs. The Christians took up the same idea and, along with continuing to bury their dead side-by-side with pagans in mixed catacombs, also started building catacombs just for Christians).

Needless to say, every once in a while, a new columbarium is discovered below Rome’s ground level. This one was found in 1831. And it dates way back — back earlier than the Christian catacombs — to between 14 and 54 A.D. The incredible thing? Many of the frescoes and decorations still look fresh. And lots of the burial urns are still there.

The columbarium likely was founded by Pomponio Hylas for his family in the 1st century B.C. How do we know? The extraordinary mosaic that faces you as you descend down the stairs into the space.

The chamber itself is small. But it’s filled with beautifully-detailed, and preserved, frescoes and decorations, from mythological scenes to delicate, winding vines.

There’s nothing quite as extraordinary as standing in the small chamber designed, so intimately, by a family for its dead, seeing the frescoes that they hired artists to paint, viewing the inscriptions with their individual names — and the urns that once contained their ashes. If it weren’t so beautiful, it would give you the shivers.

And you’d never guess any of this from the outside.

To book, you’re supposed to have a group of at least 10 people. Book by calling 060608. It costs €3 per person. Just promise one thing: If you go, you will not touch the frescoes, or anything else in there. That’s what destroys the artwork.

The columbarium is located in the Parco degli Scipioni, nearest to Via Latina 10. For a map, click here.

Want to find out about Rome’s other hidden gems? Check out The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon, below, or through my site here!

An Empress’s House Opens… Only Through March

Rome’s just unveiling all kinds of incredible ancient sites. Case in point: the House of Livia — a gloriously-frescoed, 2,000-year-old structure thought to belong to Emperor Augustus’ wife. After being closed to the public for years, then open on Saturday mornings only last fall, it’s reopened this month.

But go quickly. Because, so far, it’s only open this month.

Why is it worth visiting? Well, two reasons. First, if you’re wandering around the ruins of the Palatine and curious how any of these ancient houses actually would have been decorated, here’s your chance. The House of Livia still boasts (fragments of) mosaic floors and beautiful frescoes — not quite as pristine as those in the House of Augustus, but almost. (Below, the well-preserved frescoes of the garlands that symbolized Octavian Augustus’ victory — you can see them on his Ara Pacis, too).

Secondly, the house is thought to belong to Livia. Augustus’ wife. The woman that Octavian fell in love with so immediately he divorced his wife the day she was birthing his child in order to marry Livia. Who he remained married to for 51 years, even though she never bore him a child, and even though she was the daughter of a man who had been killed in battle fighting against her now-husband. Who was, herself, the mother of the second emperor Tiberius, the grandmother of Claudius, and the great-grandmother of Caligula.

And who was so powerful, the Senate tried to bestow her with the title of Mater Patriae (“Mother of the Fatherland”) — and, supposedly, such a powerful meddler that her son Tiberius retired himself to Capri just to avoid her. In short? She was a bad-ass.

How could you not want to see where she lived, loved, and plotted… or the decorations that she chose? (Note: The tour guide said the frescoes were chosen by Augustus. Why this has been assumed, I’m not exactly sure. I doubt a woman who was powerful enough to make the emperor retire would have let somebody else pick out her home’s decor.)

So, go. And go now — before the House of Livia shuts once more, to open who-knows-when.

As per the Pierreci site, the House of Livia is open only for tours that run, in English, at 9:30am and every hour thereafter until 3:30pm. That said, I was there yesterday and the house was very clearly simply open, with people wandering in and out, at 3:15. The tour guide did come in at 3:30 and gave a 15-minute tour, but it didn’t seem to be necessary to view the house’s offerings. The price of entrance is included in your 12 euro forum/Colosseum/Palatine ticket.