travel raven

travel raven

Big Savings on Gas While you Travel!

Posted on November 1, 2018 in Uncategorized

Gas prices are soaring! This has resulted in elevated travel expenses. If you travel by car, YOU have some control over the costs.

Here are some ways to save money on gas:

* Switch to synthetic motor oil. It reduces engine friction and may make your car a little less ravenous at the gas station. (There are brands available claiming 5%-20% increases in fuel economy.)

* Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil. Manufacturer specs are based on what is best for your specific vehicle.

* Buy gas with the recommended octane rating. Premium can actually be detrimental to many engines.

* Fill up during the coolest times of day. You get more gas in each gallon, because liquids expand in the heat. The pumps are measuring gallons, not weight.

* Make sure that the gas cap is tight after you fill up. Gas evaporates easily – you can lose an appreciable amount through an improperly seated cap.

* Check your tires before your holiday and inflate them to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Underinflated tires create drag and increase gas consumption. Always carry a tire gauge in your glove compartment.

* Never drive on bald tires! Besides being unsafe, they also increase fuel consumption.

* Don’t leave your engine idling for long periods of time. This includes pre-warming – one minute is all you need. Start off slowly, then use normal speeds after a couple of minutes.

* Don’t continually start and stop your engine. Each start burns about the same amount of gas as one minute of idle time.

* Drive the speed limit on highways – speeding devours gas. Activate your cruise control whenever possible, and when cruise is not engaged remember the ‘egg’ trick: drive like you have a raw egg between the floorboards and the gas pedal.

* Stop lights in cities are usually set to synchronize with the posted speed limit. Drive the speed limit and you are more likely to hit a long series of green lights. Stopping at red lights increases idle time and gas consumption.

* Drive in a way that entails minimal use of the brakes.

* Don’t pack more than you need. The more weight you carry, the more gas you use.

* Decrease wind resistance. A car caked with mud, snow, or ice will cause drag and burn more gas than a sleek, clean vehicle.

* Don’t use the air conditioner unless necessary. Vehicle air conditioners increase fuel consumption.

* Pamper your vehicle by ensuring that it goes in for regular tune-ups and maintenance. Slight adjustments can mean dramatic fuel savings. Ask the maintenance people to add fuel injector cleaner whenever the oil is changed.

* Some communities have websites that post fuel prices at local gas stations. Do your research before you leave to find out where the cheapest stations are. Use common sense: driving too far out of your way will gobble up more gas than you save. Try gasbuddy.com (USA and Canada) and your favorite search engines.

* If you own a gas guzzler, try trading with a relative or neighbor for a smaller vehicle while you vacation. (Make sure that insurance policies on both vehicles are in order first.)

* Use your feet! Once you get to your destination, walk whenever possible. Walking is how you really get to know an area.

Save money, save the environment – and have more cash to spend on your vacation!

3 Travel Stops For Edgar Allan Poe Fans

Posted on October 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

Do you listen to ravens… wondering if they’ll ever say “Never more”? Does the clicking of your clock sound just a little too much like a tell tale heart? When you shop for wine, do your eyes linger over that bottle of Amontillado? Then you’re probably a genre traveler with a soft spot for the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

This American writer, poet, editor and literary critic was best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre. Born in Boston, Mass., he moved to Richmond, Va. after his mother died when he but a toddler. He, himself, died in Baltimore, Md, when he was only 40 years old.

If you’ll be traveling the North East of the United States and would like to pay homage to this very talented American writer, here are a few suggested stops for your itinerary.

Boston, Massachusetts
There is a plaque mounted on Carver Street mounted near the place where Poe was born. The plaque mentions other Boston place you might want to see, such as the corner of Washington and State Streets,where Poe’s first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, was published.

Baltimore, Maryland
There are several stops in Baltimore that you can visit on your EAP tour. There is the Baltimore Poe House and Museum at 203 Amity street. The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore rescued this building demolition in 1941. If you visit in October, you can attend the annual Halloween celebration, held at the Poe House on the weekends before and after Oct. 31. Also, the weekend nearest January 19 marks the Edgar Allan Poe Birthday Celebration, held every year at the Poe House.

Poe’s grave can be found at the Westminster Burying Ground. It is marked by an 80-inch tall monument that features a bas-relief bust of Poe. Tours of the Westminster Burying Grounds and Catacombs are held the first and third Fridays of each month, April through November.

Other Baltimore Poe stops might include the Sir Moses Ezekiel statue of Poe located in the plaza of the Law School of the University of Baltimore and Church Hospital, the Site of Poe’s Death.

Richmond, Virginia
The Poe Museum “boasts the world’s finest collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s manuscripts, letters, first editions, memorabilia and personal belongings”… at least that’s what their website says. Poe moved to Richmond when he as about two years old. The museum, opened in 1922, is just blocks away from Poe’s first home in the area, as well as his first place of employment, the Southern Literary Messenger.

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Traveling to Bhutan, the Mystical Land of the Thunder Dragon

Posted on October 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

If you have the cash saved up, a little time and planning can get you to this land locked Himalayan Kingdom and open up a wonder world of picturesque landscapes, enchanting villages, snow capped mountains, ageless forests, erotic sculptures, dark musty monasteries and a culture so rich and steeped in time you will think you have indeed been transported back a few hundred years.

Firstly you have to get to Paro. The government imposed rule is that you must fly at least one way with the National Carrier, Druk Air. As Druk is actually the only carrier that flies into Paro, Bhutan’s airport, then the choice is easy. Druk flies a couple of times a week from Kathmandu, Bangkok and Dehli.

Booking your trip is no easy task with so many online tour operators all offering package tours to Bhutan. The Government of Bhutan has set a daily tariff fee for foreigners visiting the country. Many people confuse this with the visa fee and think that is what costs so much. In fact the visa to visit Bhutan is only US$25. Tours are expensive due to the imposed daily tariff.

Many companies offer what look like value for money Bhutan Tours, but inspect the itineraries closer, especially for tours that commence in places like Kathmandu, Bangkok or Delhi, they may include your flight to Paro, but check out how many days you will actually be spending inside Bhutan as that is where the money should be spent. Some tour agents fluff out tours by selling a ten day trip, where only five days may actually be in Bhutan and the rest doing sightseeing around the joining point country.

Look for a tour that you can meet in Paro, making your own way there will ensure that you get 100% value for money inside Bhutan. If you book a tour with an agent they will most likely be able to help you with arranging your flights.
The best time to visit Bhutan is of course the main festival seasons where the culture and colour is at its best. During these times, normally March, April, September and October, it can be very hard to book a flight. So make sure you book well ahead and get your agent to arrange and confirm flights for you (most airlines can be booked up to 10 months in advance only). Also double check that if you are booking your tour to coincide with a festival, that you will get the chance to see one. During these festival times the tariff rate will be at a premium. If festivals are not your thing, then try going outside of season and you should be able to get as much as a 30% discount on your tour.

As a trip to Bhutan is such a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ a true travel investment you should choose your tour operator wisely. As all tours to Bhutan are pre arranged, it’s all too easy for a travel company to tack Bhutan tours onto their list of tours without having properly made contacts with agents inside Bhutan. As Bhutan tours are 100% operated by Bhutanese tour companies, you should be looking for a company that either represents a Bhutan Agent or is a certified tour operator for Bhutan. I could not think of anything worse than spending a lot of money and not getting to see half the things mentioned on the itinerary or having a poorly arranged holiday.

When planning your trip, obviously your budget will factor the amount of days you are able to spend in Bhutan. Here are a few places that you must see, so make sure that your itinerary and time frame covers them.

Kichu Lhakhang- This Monastery is one of the 108 monasteries built across the Himalayan region by the Tibetan King to subdue the Demoness that lay across the Himalayan region.
Taktsang Monastery- The Tigers Nest. This is one of the most famous sights in Bhutan. The monastery is perched on a cliff in the midst of a lush green jungle. It is reached by a short walk and offers stunning views. This is one of the most memorable sights to visit in Bhutan and the main reason why a lot of visitors come here. The primary Lhakhang was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favorite consort.

The Tango Monastery- The trail Tango is a climb of 280 meters and it takes an hour to reach the monastery. Lama Gyalwa Lhanampa founded the monastery in 12th century. The building was re-built in 15th century by the “Divine Madman”. This is one of the best places for meditation in Bhutan.
Chimi Lhakhang- Built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley in 15th century. (This monk is popularly known as the Devine Madman for his philosophy, “Salvation through sex”). He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt”. The Temple is also known as “The Temple of Fertility”. Sterile women from far and wide come to this Temple to get blessed.

Wangdiphodrang Dzong- Built in 1638. Legend has it as the people were searching for the site of this Dzong, four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. This was considered an auspicious sign, representing the spread of religion to the four points of the compass.

Chendebji Monastery- This Monastery is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, from Tibet, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed at this spot.
Trongsa Dzong- I think that this is the most impressive fort in Bhutan. The present form was built in 1644 and was built in aim to unify Eastern Bhutan. The Dzong, which means fort in Bhutanese is the present home of the Royal Family and the first two hereditary kings who rule the country from this place.

Gangtey Gompa – This is famous for the Black Necked Cranes during winter. These cranes are very rare and endangered and highly protected by the Government. These cranes fly to Phobjikha valley which is their winter habitat. The Cranes circle three times in a clock-wise direction around the Gangtey Gompa as a reverence to the Monastery before landing in the valley. They repeat the same practice before flying back to Tibet in early spring.

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