Friday, February 28, 2014

Old Wounds Re-Open With Civil War Monument

In Florida it’s an old saying that “the farther north you go, the farther south you get.” Nowhere is this saying more true than in Baker County at the Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park.  Home to one of the largest Civil War re-enactments in the Southeast, Olustee is considered “sacred ground” for those whose ancestors fought on the Confederate side of the war.  The latest conflict on the battlefield is the push by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to place a monument within the park to commemorate the soldiers who died there.  The park currently features 3 monuments already, all for Confederate soldiers.

Charles Custer, 83, is one of the descendants pushing for the Union obelisk.  “There were twice as many Union casualties there as Confederate.  They fought. They bled. And they are really not recognized anywhere.”  Custer had relatives fight on both sides of the war, like many people in the South today.
On the opposite side of the “second battle of Olustee” are the Sons of Confederate Veterans who are pushing to have the new monument banned from the park.  Unlike other Southern states, the influx of “Yankees” into Florida has never stopped.  Attracted by the weather and tourist destinations, Florida’s Southern heritage has been slowly eroding since the war.

“My biggest concern is that this is revisionist history and that these decisions are being made by park officials and not an elected body. You have to have some obligation to the people," said Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley, Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The main problem is not so much the monument itself but the location where proponents want to place it.  As long as it is not erected within the original three-acre state park, advocates on the Southern side are fine with it.  “We are not opposed to the monument at all; we are opposed to the location, and here is why — it’s like any other historical building,” said James S. Davis, 66, the Florida Division Commander for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. “You put something brand new in there and it destroys the significance of it.”

During the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Olustee held last month, re-enactors and visitors alike enjoyed the festivities and all political issues were placed on hold during the event.  Over 2,000 demonstrators gathered together to bring living history to attendees.  Originally fought on February 20, 1864, the Confederate victory still left over 900 Southern soldiers dead with a defeated Union camp losing over twice that number.  This was seen as a huge victory in Florida as Union troops were prevented from reaching Tallahassee from Jacksonville, taking the capital and setting up Florida as a Union state.  Visitors also enjoyed authentic encampments, historical demonstrations and educational events along with the battle.  The original town of Olustee is setup, allowing visitors to walk through and experience what it was like during the Civil War.  2014 marks the 38th year the re-enactment has taken place.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Saving Money While on a Road Trip

For those adventurers who have been bitten by the proverbial travel bug and are bent on following their wandering instincts all over the globe, money may play several different roles. It may be a luxury that is useful and convenient when it exists, but is not a necessity for the quality of life that you seek to sustain. It may be a non renewable resource that brings travel to a halt when it runs out. Or, it may be a sought after currency that allows you to travel when you have it in abundance, and that consequently forces you to stop and save up when you need more funds to press on, or you may choose to source additional funds from an external source such as payday loans. No matter what role money plays in your travels, however, it is almost certain that you will always be aiming to save more than you spend. The more cash you can save while traveling, the more side jaunts, special indulgences and extra travel expenses you will be able to afford, and the longer you can extend your trip.

For those who are traveling by motor vehicle, the classic road trip is one of the most enjoyable and leisurely ways to roam, but it can be quite pricey between the necessary monies needed for petrol, insurance, any needed maintenance or repairs for the vehicle, and emergencies. Not to mention that you will likely be setting aside money for lodging, food, and possibly entertainment, sports, booze, and those unplanned costs that will cut into your budget at every corner.

Making the Most of Your Automobile
When traveling on wheels of your own, it is important to maximize the fuel efficiency in your motor vehicle by reducing weight in the automobile, driving a well mapped route, and driving a vehicle that is conservative of petrol. The more loaded down with luggage and passengers that your auto is, the worse fuel economy you are going to be able to achieve. Therefore, lighten your gear as much as possible before taking off on a long road trip. This means carrying dehydrated or prepackaged food stuffs, reducing the amount and weight of belongings that you are packing with you, and ensuring that you have a reasonable number of riders for the size and capacity of your vehicle.  Additionally, make sure that you improve your petrol efficiency by making your auto as compact as possible so that no wind resistance is built up. Instead of hooking bicycles to the top of the auto, for example, place them inside the vehicle so that the air flow over and above your vehicle is smooth and not disruptive. Don't forget to plan your route so that you are traveling on as many direct and relatively flat motor ways as possible.

Save Money on Day to Day Expenses
Although you may be tempted to hand over your cash or card several times a day for lodging, food, and more while on your road trip, try alternative methods of travel that are not quite so commerced based in order to save a significant amount on your journey budget. Rather than choosing to stay in hotels, try traveler's hostels or a network like CouchSurfing in order to score a cheap or free place to rest your head. You may be able to get no cost or reduced price meals at places like these, but otherwise make sure to carry much of your own food in order to avoid dining out at every opportunity. If you are a student, senior citizen or fit into another demographic category, you may be eligible for a special discount card that entitles you to savings in your area of travel, such as the European travel card for discounts in certain popular tourist cities. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Popularity of Sport in Spain

There are many different sports associated with Spain, some of which are more popular than others. Sporting interests are often affected by cultural popularity and traditional values, with some of the most popular sports ranging from football (soccer) to bullfighting. Here’s how the various sports played in Spain rank in terms of popularity.

There has been some notable progress in Spanish tennis during recent years with some of the biggest names in the sport originating from the warmth of the Mediterranean. Rafael Nadal is one of the most decorated tennis players in history and continues to carry the flag for tennis in Spain alongside fellow successful pros Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Robredo and David Ferrer. With tennis becoming such a popular sport for health and fitness benefits, more of the Spanish population are taking up the sport.

You may be surprised to learn that there are various ski resorts present in Spain thanks its mountainous regions. Atop the snowy mountains in Spain you will be greeted with glorious sunshine at all the outstanding ski resorts across the country. With such a stable climate across the year, Spain is rarely affected by changeable weather so you’ll have excellent visibility when skiing.

The Spanish have become famous for their talented Basketball team thanks to the major progression taking place over the years in the national league known as the ACB. It is one of the most recognised basketball leagues behind the NBA and many Spanish players have transferred over to the US to make the most of their talent. The Spanish are known for doing well in the Olympic Basketball tournaments and it is this major sporting event that gives Spanish basketball a platform to enhance its popularity.

The laidback attitude associated with many Spaniards is likely to relate to their passion for a day out at the golf course. Many regions of Spain, including the Costa del Sol, host a wide range of Golf courses including the famous course that hosted the Ryder Cup in 1997, Valderrama. The popularity of golf in Spain has grown thanks to the successes of major professional players such as Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sergio Garcia. Who wouldn’t want to experience a round of golf at some of the most idyllic destinations on the planet? The endless sunshine, sandy coastal regions and wonderful hospitality all contribute to an excellent golfing experience for tourists.

There is no doubt that football (soccer) is the biggest sport in the country. The Spanish people treat the beautiful game as something of a religion, worshipping various football clubs across the country from the mighty Real Madrid and Barcelona to some of the smaller clubs in La Liga. Wherever you go in Spain, from well populated town squares to local village bars, you will certainly hear someone talking about football. As one of the biggest leagues in the world, La Liga has attracted some of the biggest names to Spanish shores in the past including the two best players in the world at the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

About the author: 
Crispin Hardacre is a sports fanatic living in the Costa del Sol. He has contributed this post on behalf of Panorama Properties, Marbella's leading Spanish real estate agent.

Friday, February 21, 2014

How To Prepare Yourself For Buying Your First Home At Sheffield

Buying a home for the first time is always exciting. It is particularly so if the house happens to be in a nice Sheffield neighbourhood. Steeped in the Industrial Revolution that marked a boom in the economy of the place, Sheffield continues to be one of the most economically successful regions of England.
Although there is an abundance of industries, Sheffield is essentially a green city. There are about two million trees and two-hundred-and-fifty national parks, woodlands, and gardens. It is probably this beautiful balance between the gorgeous greens and the economic excellence that have made the place a favourite among prospective homeowners.
Like any other place, buying a new house in Sheffield requires that you should be prepared for this big decision both financially and emotionally. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind before you begin the big search.
Most people have to opt for a mortgage. However, you need to remember a few things before doing that. The best thing to do is to compare the various providers in the market because the rates that they offer vary. Depending upon the mortgage you choose, you will have to raise certain amount of cash for deposit. Although this cannot be predicted, you can expect this to be around five percent of the price of the property in the least.
The best way to choose a property is to get in touch with buying agents and arrange for viewing. You should of course have a budget in place and should keep to properties that fit into that range. Chances are you will end up liking more than one property in Sheffield.
If that happens, try to evaluate the pros and cons of each property including its plan, architecture, and the neighbourhood. Maintaining a diary may appear to be a ridiculous idea, but it is a great thing to do. It is best not to trust your memory when you have so much information to process.
Taking care of survey and the legal aspects
It is always recommended that you get your property surveyed by a professional. Evaluating it will help you in making an offer. Similarly, you will also need the help of a team of good professional solicitors.
The best way to find one is to take advice from your friends and colleagues in Sheffield who have used similar services in the past. It is important to find a good solicitor because you are essentially looking at a long-term relationship.
The day of the actual move
No matter how exciting it is to move into your new house, no one would deny that it is very exhausting as well. Take the help of a good removals company. Begin packing all your things many days prior to the big day and try to label your boxes to keep things organised.
One of the most important aspects of buying a property in Sheffield is finding one. You may contact the NetMovers to take care of this.
For more information on tips when purchasing a home in the UK check out this BBC blog.

About the author
Sam Jones writes forThe  Residential Departments at Netmovers you can find him on Google Plus over here

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Flight Review: Philippine Airlines - Manila to Puerto Princesa

Pre-Airport Experience - Three weeks before departure, I requested to modify my roundtrip (PAL and PAL Express) airline tickets that was supposedly used last December to be rebooked on January 30 and February 8. Changes and payments transaction were made over the phone through respective customer care hotlines. It was a long call, presumably an hour including the usually unbearable waiting time, but all my concerns were attended accordingly in just one phone call, not a single follow-up was made. The experience was more convenient rather than going to the nearest ticketing office to make changes.

Travel Tip: How to Get a Window Seat without Paying More

I have flown a lot and on each flight, I want to be seated next to the window. I hate airplanes’ middle and isle seats and I think I’m not alone in thinking that they are the worst.  When I booked and rebooked my tickets, I skipped the airline seating chart because I won’t and didn’t pay that extra charge to choose my seat.  I don’t have an assigned seat until I checked in but I'm not worried. With an experience attending Air Philippines’ (now PAL Express) check-in counter during my OJT in college, I know what to do to get that seat next to the aircraft’s window. 

From what I’ve experienced in handling flight manifest and check-in counter during my OJT days, some number of available seats are on hold and block till the last minute, reserved for emergency cases and super VIPs they say. (Wikipedia: A flight manifest is a list of passengers (or in the case of a cargo flight, parcels) and crew of an aircraft compiled before departure based on flight check-in information. It is securely guarded to protect passengers' privacy)

Here’s the drill: You can get a window seat but it’s a gamble, depends if there’s a vacant window seat on your flight. 

Here’s what you have to do: Check-in two hours early for domestic flight. Give your nicest smile and beautiful eyes to the ground attendant and nicely request them that you want to be seated by the window. Unless all of the window seats have been selected and paid for, you have a pretty good chance of getting a seat with uninterrupted view of the sky.  

I requested a window seat with my signature puppy dog eyes that the pleasant ground attendant could not resist.  He placed me near cockpit, next row from senior citizens and PWDs, 7F of Airbus A320-214  as per my boarding pass. Man, I was very lucky!

Airport Experience - Passing through usual baggage and security checks, frisking, x-ray and metal detectors, shops and restaurants, I found gate 119 in Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s domestic flight area.  There are restaurants, clean restroom, and smoking area near the gate. Passengers bound to Puerto Princesa were lounging at the brightly lit terminal with nice cushioned seats and large window.  There’s a group of high school students carrying trophies wearing oversize glasses and baseball caps giggling, some were seating on the floor blocking the entrance gate although there’s lot of vacant seats.  I seated near the entrance next to old couple who coincidentally my seatmate in the plane, sleeping and looked tired - from probably connecting flight. On the other side was a nun silently praying the rosary, her eyes are closed. 

From where I seated, I saw Philippine Airlines Airbus A320-214 unloading baggage from the aircraft. It was a gloomy day signifying that tropical depression Basyang was slowly coming in the Philippine area of responsibility. I have plenty of spare time and surprised when I learned that WIFI access was free. My remaining 1:45 hrs of waiting was spent in the smoking area updating my social media accounts and checking the weather bulletin. The typhoon will reach the southern part of the country in a day or two according to PAGASA. I gotta have a safe flight, I told myself.

The boarding process was very organized. I commend the ground stewards for repeatedly announcing the order of embarkation.  We were divided into three groups: Rear-Middle-Front. Seats in the back of the plane are boarded followed by the middle section and then the front area. Our group was the last to go onboard as final boarding passes were checked.

When the boarding door was closed, I prepared myself for a bumpy ride, fastened my seat belt tight, checked my exit door and switched my electronic gadgets off. As we taxi from taxiway to the main runway, the usual in-flight safety demonstration was performed by the poker-faced flight attendants, lol!

“When the seat belt sign illuminates, you must fasten your seat belt. Insert the metal fittings one into the other, and tighten by pulling on the loose end of the strap. To release your seat belt, lift the upper portion of the buckle. We suggest that you keep your seat belt fastened throughout the flight, as we may experience turbulence...."

We took-off Manila on the dot which is unusual to happen.  After passing above clouds and the plane reached its highest altitude, the captain turned the fasten seatbelt sign off and announced that passengers can now release their seat belts if needed.  The aircraft was still climbing to its cruising altitude when the tropical rays of the sun touched my face. It was unexpected, considering that there’s a typhoon coming in and was really cloudy when we left Manila.  I peeked through the window, below was a huge cloud formation, probably the advance party of the upcoming tropical depression, lol!

Philippine Airlines’ aircraft flew higher away from the clouds that cause turbulence. We float above the clouds and had a seamless flight. Accommodating airline crews served brewed coffee, tea, mineral water, greaseless peanuts and skyflakes in the middle of an hour flight to my lovely provincial capital, Puerto Princesa City. Before landing, the plane circled the famous Honda Bay with it islands and islets dotting the blue waters, giving the European tourists behind me a trailer of a grand vacation.

We arrived safe and a bit early from our scheduled arrival time. The crews and the passengers were both organize and sensitive as we disembarked. It was indeed another memorable and enjoyable flight.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Opening Soon in El Nido, Palawan: Cauayan Resort

A travel whisperer told me that there's another luxury resort opening soon in the shores of El Nido in the province of Palawan early this year. 

The municipality of El Nido, located in the northernmost tip of Palawan is already famous vacation and honeymoon spot among Filipinos and foreigners alike. With its karst and majestic limestone formations, empty blue lagoons, marble cliffs, prehistoric caves and waterfalls, El Nido has been cited by CNN as one of the 100 best beaches in the world (14th place) recently.

Admiring the photos on their website, the resort has a tropical ambiance and the luxurious Villas have stunning scenic view of the sea and sky. The Cauayan suite villa, perched on top of the hill has the most majestic 360 degree view of the island. As of writing, Cauayan Resort is being completed and not yet accepting reservations. But you can check out promising pictures on their website and facebook account. Should you want to visit the Fuego managed resort, you can leave your contact information on their website and they will notify you as soon as the resort become operational.

 Photos from:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

9th Balayong Festival 2014 | 142nd Founding Anniversary of Puerto Princesa City ( Schedule of Activities)


February 14, 2014
4:00 AM: Love Affair with Nature
Venue: San Manuel

February 24, 2014
9:AM: Miss Puerto Princesa Candidates Swimsuit Competition
Venue: Aziza Paradize Hotel

February 26, 2014
5:00 PM: Miss Puerto Princesa Candidates Casual Wear Competition
Venue: Robinsons Place Palawan - Activity Center

February 28, 2014
8:00 AM: Opening Tabuan Festival
Venue: Old Public Market (starting point) to Baywalk (end point)

March 1, 2014
1:00 PM: Street Dancing Competition
Venue: Junction 1, Mendoza Park, Baywalk
Motorcade of Miss Puerto Princesa Candidates
7:00 PM: Balayong Dance Contest
Venue: Puerto Princesa Baywalk

March 2, 2014
6:00 AM "Forever Young Handog ng Apuradong Administrasyon"
(check in and medical)
8:00 AM Quiz Bee (Elementary Level)
1:00 PM Quiz Bee (High School Level)
Venue: City Coliseum
1:00 PM: Peacekeeping Force Parade
Junction 1 to Baywalk
3:00 PM: Peacekeeping Dance Showdown
Venue: Baywalk
8:00 PM : 1st Puerto princesa City Pyro-Musical Competition and Fireworks Photo Contest
Venue: Baywalk

March 3, 2014
1:00 PM Araw ng Princesa (Queen of Queens Parade)
Venue: Junction 1 to Baywalk
3:00 PM Gay Double Trouble Ramble Boxing
Venue: Baywalk
6:00 PM: Oplan Linis Clean and Green Award
Venue: City Coliseum
7:00 PM: Miss Puerto princesa 2014 Silver Talent Night
Venue: City Coliseum

March 4, 2014
6:00 AM Civic Grand Parade
City Government Employees, Program and Special programs, Barangay Officials, Province, Schools, NGOs, Dog Parade, Tamilok Raiders, Mountain Bikers
7:00 AM The Grand Float Parade
Venue: Junction 1 to Baywalk
9:00 AM: Unveiling of Street Names
9:30 AM: Inauguration of City Projects
6:00 PM: Mayor's Award
7:00 PM Fireworks Photo Contest Awarding
7:30 PM: Miss Puerto Princesa 2014 Silver Grand Coronation Night
Venue: City Coliseum

March 5, 2014
9:00 AM "Forever Young Handog ng Apuradong Administrasyon"
6:00 PM Tabuan Closing