5 Alternative Places to Visit in Northumberland

Certain travel destinations in Northumberland get the lion’s share of attention. Alnwick for example is an oft-recommended destination that is hugely attractive to tourists, and for good reasons: the bustling market town serves as both a central hub from which travellers can explore the numerous attractions in east Northumberland and a worthy destination in its own right. Other locations in the large and diverse county of Northumberland are often overlooked, despite the fact they are equally capable of representing the staggering natural beauty and romantic sparseness of the northernmost county. This list intends to draw attention to the underrated destinations that are hidden away or overshadowed but just as rewarding.  

1.Ford Castle
Although Ford Castle doesn’t quite have the military grandeur of Bamburgh Castle or the enchanting Hogwarts-esque aesthetic of Alnwick Castle (it isn’t surprising that scenes from Harry Potter were filmed there), it was built bit by bit over a period of 500 years and consequently boasts an intriguing combination of medieval and late Tudor architecture. The resulting product is a mysterious part-castle, part-gothic mansion that effuses mystery. It’s in an ideal location which is a stone’s throw away from Holy Island and market town Berwick-Upon-Tweed, so it’s convenient to quickly visit if you only have one day to tour the sights of northern Northumberland

Rothbury is smaller than the more visited market towns Morpeth and Alnwick. As a result, it’s cosier and more picturesque than its larger counterparts. The small size of Rothbury shouldn’t fool you into thinking there’s nothing to do there: Rothbury plays host to a number of attractions including the eccentric gothic mansion Cragside and the annual Rothbury Traditional Music Festival which is a great excuse to embrace the local culture with a glass of ale in hand. 
Small and beautiful: the market town of Rothbury.
Alnmouth is a small seaside village four miles south of Alnwick. A stroll through this quaint area is one of the nicest ways to experience the raw, unrefined beauty of the Northumbrian Coastline. Alnmouth is ideal for cyclists and walking enthusiasts because it’s surrounded by footpaths and is one end of a cycle route that follows to coastline to the equally beautiful village of Warkworth. Alnmouth is also home to one of Britain’s spookiest locations, the Schooner Hotel, which was featured on the television show Most Haunted.  

4.Wallington Hall
Located 12 miles west of Morpeth, Wallington Hall is a spectacular country house that was owned by the Trevelyan family before being donated to the national trust. The interior of the hall is incredible: Pre-Raphaelite paintings adorn the walls, and quirky furniture and decor offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the unconventional Trevelyan family. The real treat, however, lies outside the walls of Wallington in the estate’s extensive grounds. A footpath guides visitors though the hall’s woods to a bewitching walled garden and a day spend exploring the estate is a truly magical experience. More information can be found on the national trust’s webpage for Wallington Hall. 

A scene from Wallington Hall’s incredible walled garden.
Out of all the beautiful seaside villages along the Northumbrian Coastline, Seahouses epitomises what makes these settlements so appealing. It’s a down to earth and charming village, surrounded by the beautiful Northumbrian coastline. It has a gorgeous beach, a harbour, and fantastic fish and chips. The quiet beauty of Seahouses has given rise to it becoming one of the popular holiday destinations in Northumberland. Accommodation for holidaymakers is provided in the form of holiday cottages, provided for rental by companies the likes of Stay Northumbria

The beach at Seahouses
What makes Northumberland unique as a holiday destination is that nearly all of its attractions, from Hadrian’s Wall to the abandoned coal mines, seem to capture the county’s rich and romantic heritage. A short list doesn’t do Northumberland justice: it’s a county that rewards exploration and a sense of adventure. 
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Back to Dance Class

My daughter is back  to dance class, and she is happy this time.As a mom, I ask her if she wants to try something new activities. I don't let her focus on one extra curricular activities. She stopped the  ballet dance class last year and I ask her last couple  of months if she wants to dance again and she said "yes". 

I research in internet about new program in my area and I found this interesting website the dance doctor. I wish I leave in this area so I can get a try for my daughter-they have a good program.

This time, she is in musical dance theatre and she loves it- the combination is perfect for her age were she can dance and sing. 
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New Orleans:The World’s Longest Bridge

When we went to New Orleans we crossed  the World's longest bridge- called  Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. It's pretty amazing how this bridge build and put up all together. 

"Since 1969, it was listed by Guinness World Records as the longest bridge over water in the world"

I took some photos while husband was driving. Here are some photos of The World's Longest Bridge.

I can't believed I crossed the World's Longest Bridge.

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The Top 5 Things to See in Corsica

Corsica, France, is a laid back Mediterranean place, which is warm all year long. This area has long been known for its amazing beaches and pleasant atmosphere. With so much to do, one could never just come one time. This is a spot that tourists frequent year after year for its charm and beauty. With the beaches and mountains all tied into a beautiful package, Corsica is the perfect place to spend your holiday. While in Corsica, there are a few things you want to ensure you get to see.
Ajaccio is a small town on the west coast of Corsica. It has the mountains on one side and the Gulf of Ajaccio, on the other. This roman town has a lot of ruins and artefacts that attracts many visitors each year. Once inside this town, it will become apparent that one is in the hometown of Napoleon Bonaparte. There are monuments, marked locations of his play areas and the National Bonaparte Museum. This little town is very picturesque, with its little Mediterranean houses and exquisite architecture.
The beaches of Corsica are spectacular. Whether one is looking for sand, or a pebbles and rock beach, there is something for everyone. Arinella is a popular beach site. One can walk miles in the sand, or take advantage of any water sport here. There is a lot of space to stretch out here. Arone is another great beach area. This beach is off the beaten path and not as hectic as other beaches might be.
Bastia is a wonderful area to visit. Victor Hugo lived in this town as a child. This area has splendid narrow streets, lined with crumbling buildings from the 18th century. In this harbour, one can watch guests arriving from Italy and France. The Old Harbour area is a great way to spend the day or night. There are several restaurants and eateries, which have a great meal or spirits. The Murato church is also popular here. This church was constructed of black and white bricks, alternating to make a beautiful pattern.
For rolling pastures, vineyards and charming villages, visit Nebbio. This area is not overcrowded by tourists and allows one to experience true life, as the villagers live. St Michele de Murato, is a popular site with the multi collared stone patterns. The church has remarkable views of the mountains and has well-known statues. This area is one of the most popular for producing wine, for the entire Corsica area. While visiting one might be tempted to have a sip, or two and look at the gorgeous landscaping.

Like something out of a movie, the village of Nonza sits on a hill. This little town sits above water, with some of the most stunning views on the whole island. Visit the Paoline Tower, part of a fabulous castle, situation high on a hill, viewing the water. Visit the pink, statue of St Julie. St Julie was crucified here in the 16th century. This area is known to have a natural spring, due to the fact that after her death, her breasts were removed and thrown at a rock. To view the fascinating statue, one will have to take a decent flight of stairs. The whole area is surrounded by water for a tranquil atmosphere.
No matter what sites one visits in Corsica, France they are sure to be captivating. The whole area seems to have a utopia like feel, which is inviting. Visiting with the locals and getting off the beaten path, can prove to be beneficial in discovering new and exciting adventures. With Italy and Sicily being so close, one could even take a ferry ride there for the day. It is the perfect way to spend any vacation.

Leslie writes about the Camino in Spain on his blog and on his forum.
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7 Reasons September is the Month for Vacation (in spite of Back to School)

The “Back-to-School” season can seem like a crazy time of year. For folks with older kids, it can mean crossing the country or driving back to the state college.  

For families with younger kids, you can face struggles over school, even tears, and a resumption of everything that kids just hate. From routine, and tedium to what can seem like the broken promise of summer.  Grown-ups can face many of the same things. From a return to job tedium to the longing for more time with the kids – no matter how old they are now.
For families on a budget (and what family isn’t?), September should be a tremendous relief too. While choosing exclusively based on cost might never be a good thing, there is almost guaranteed to be a big discount for waiting out the summer. So now, what better time is there to get going? 
These are just 7 of the most important reasons to make your break in September – when the going gets good
1. Low Season is a Better Travel Season
Lots of places close up completely, but not in South Florida. There’s still plenty to see and do and you’ll see better than 50% discounts on lots of things from accommodations to boat trips and museum entrance fees.  Plus there are fewer people, less competition and virtually un-changed weather – not like lots of other low-seasons, where the snow starts falling almost the moment the lifeguard whistles everyone off the beach.  

2. September is that “Feel Good Month” 
However you want to read it. Lot’s of folks will think “emotional” is just about crying and crying. But think about the last time you drove to your old university town, or back to where’d you been, more regularly, when you were a lot younger. You see, September was always about some kind of travel. Taking advantage of the time of the year is one of the greatest reasons to go, and all that emotion – or remembered emotion – make it that much richer of an experience. There are still plenty of good reasons to cry beyond going back to school.

3. No competition means more of – Everything! 
In some cases, when we schedule someone for a September rental, there is quite literally, no one else waiting. That means, not just no crowds, but in some cases, you get entire locations to yourself. Entire beaches, sand dunes, coastal expanses – you name it. Of course, we’re writing from North Captiva Island, but on the mainland, even cities like Cape Coral and Fort Myers are a lot less crowded. 

4. Cooler Beaches can be Enjoyed – Longer! 
There’s a time and place for the super hot beach baked under the sun. In September, averages temperatures drop. From August average highs of 92°F, in September, they’ll plunge to averages more like 91°F. But not everyday is the same (those are averages after all). September weather in some places is identical to August weather. In other places, the change can be dramatic, and in the tropics, often, the only difference is a refreshing downpour that happens everyday – though often not for more than an hour.    

5. There may just be MORE going on!
From the weekly Saturday Farmer’s Market at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral, to the Craft Beer and Music Festival at the Bell Towers shops in Fort Myers – most vacation spots actually schedule MORE events to make up for the loss of those high season crowds. And you still don’t need to expect massive crowds. Even truly year round popular locations will see more events scheduled for fewer people. At least that’s true till the Winter high season kicks in again.  

6. Shoulder Season Savings mean you go for longer too.  
Because just about everything you encounter is going to be discounted, there’s all the reason in the world to stay longer, enjoy more and relax more too.  After all, you’re not breaking the bank by staying for a full, “real” vacation rather than one of those “quick getaways” you’re otherwise scheduling. September is a secret – only in so far as few other travelers will even consider it. October may be an even better kept secret (but that’s another article).

7. Style! 
Let’s face it. Autumn is more stylish than summer. Even right after Labor Day, you can cut loose a little more and still look your best. Though places may still be warm, or even hot, you don’t need to dress like a tourist in the fall months. That makes lots of travelers breathe a lot easier and enjoy all the sites, the natural attractions and the cities that much more. And they look good doing just about anything!

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5 Best Fort Myers Fishing Charter Destinations

The Florida keys may always rein supreme as a more versatile fishing destination, but people come to Florida’s gulf coast for a more relaxed, often more affordable and possibly a more successful fishing trip. While Fort Meyers offers far fewer of the party boats that trowel the waters off the keys, it’s still, always, a lively, fun and even thrilling experience.

While winter charters will go mostly for snappers, amberjacks and groupers, the rest of the year you’ll see great catches of the well-regarded tarpon, king and Spanish mackeral, dolphin fish and tuna, even barracuda and of course a ton of reef fish. Gamefish are also fished on all of the mangrove shorelines, and around multiple piers and bridges, piers. Wading along the many fantastic beaches and inlets you’ll find some of the best fishing in Florida. And that’s just inshore. 
Get out there, over the deep waters, and you’ll see nearly all of the great deeper ocean fish associated with the keys and in relatively more placid waters. Sharks, mahi, cobia, barracuda, and some things even more exotic are regularly reeled in. Knowing where to go, though, is another matter entirely.  
These are the five most attractive spots for actually chartering boat, crew and captain – outside of Fort Myers. Truth be told, right in the city, there are plenty of good options, too

1. North Captiva Island
This one might seem a bit obvious, but the truth is you can actually “island fish” for just about all the near-shore species mentioned above from North Captiva island. You save the trouble of chartering a boat and crew and captain and still can hope to haul in some very admirable fish. But then again, should you want to head out on the open waters, you’ll find 
Groupers, Mangrove Snapper, Tarpon, Permit, Shark, Cobia, Tuna, King Fish, Snook, Redfish, Trout, and Barracuda among many others. 

2. Pine Island
Pine Island is a little more obvious for a lot of sportsman. In part, that’s because there are simply more boats going out than from nearly anywhere else. All that competition will drive costs down a little so you can go for a little longer or maybe even out a little further. The Pine Island Chamber lists some of the most reputable charter fishing lines on the island as well as a guide to just about everything you could need on the land side. Pine Island is also the route most visitors to North Captiva Island use when they’re crossing the channel, so it’s a well known and relatively heavily trafficked route already. 

3. St. James City
While Pine Island proper can get plenty frenetic at the height of the tourist season, St. James City is always the sleepier, “Old Pine Island” alternative. Not nearly so many visitors will drop in, and that’s presumably, just cause it’s a bit further south. But take an extra few minutes to head there, and enjoy the more fully developed infrastructure that a truly world class boating and coastal community can offer.  

4. Matlacha
Matlacha is one of those insider’s spots mostly visited by sportsman from downstate and other parts of Florida. It’s a not so secret, insider’s secret, with arguably the densest concentration of Charter Services in the area (outside of Fort Myers itself). In part that’s because it’s so popular with boaters, and the folks running the charter services not only seem to love it, but many of them call it home too. Matlacha is already famous for the walking tours and even more famous for the colorful paint jobs so it’s a terrific place to find yourself after a day out at sea. Again, the island fishing is among the best anywhere. And many of the best boats in south Florida are berthed here year round. In and of itself, Matlacha is always worth a visit whether you’re planning to charter a boat or not.  

5. Sanibel Island
Most visitors to North Captiva Island come via Pine Island and thus get a nice view of Sanibel Island on the way. But Sanibel Island is well worth a visit. Sanibel, lacking that aforementioned infrastructure, and protected from development by some wise planning and some true commitment from the inhabitants and visitors alike, is a nature lover’s paradise. With lots of wide open spaces, and lots of un-trammeled nature, it’s one of the most attractive places in Florida. That’s true not just for people, but for birds and fish and alligators and manatees too. Sanibel is also home to some of the most attractive beaches in the area too, so if you’re leaving someone behind while you head out to sea, there’s hardly a finer place to do it. There’s a lot to see and do and booking your charter fishing trip is just the beginning. 

Welcoming fisherman from around the country and around the world is just part of what we do. If you’d like more specifics for your own charter fishing vacation anywhere around Fort Myers, or North Captiva, we’ll be happy to hear what you’ve got planned. 

This article was written by james t., a travel and real estate writer in Mexico City.
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 With around 75 million native speakers around the world, Vietnamese is a language not just in Vietnam, but also throughout the world in places such as China (in particular the border regions between Vietnam and China), Australia and the United States. Interestingly, it’s estimated there are around 3 million native Vietnamese speakers outside of Vietnam.

The Vietnamese language was actually created as a by-product of French colonial rule from 1862 to 1945. French was the ‘official’ language of Vietnam and was used in all official and commercial correspondence. The Romanisation of the Vietnamese language is attributed to the French Jesuit missionary named Alexandre de Rhodes back in the 17th Century.

Regional dialects
In Vietnam, there are three dialects of Vietnamese that are used within the country:

Northern dialect - spoken by people in Hanoi (the country’s capital city) as well as all of northern Vietnam. The northern dialect is regarded as the standard version of the language;

Central dialect - as you might have guessed, this is spoken through the middle provinces of Vietnam:

Southern dialect - this is primarily spoken in Ho Chi Minh City (the city formerly known as Saigon), as well as the Mekong Delta region and other southern parts of the country.

One of the biggest complaints from both locals and foreigners is that there are often further language barriers caused by the three different dialects in use.

Despite this, people from different parts of Vietnam can still communicate without looking bewildered or confused, as they are fairly quick to translate into local dialects on the fly.

Do the Vietnamese speak any other languages?
You are likely to find people working in the travel and hospitality industries speak English fairly well, with many also able to speak French, although the number of French speakers is declining. The luxury hotels in Vietnam will have a high level of English speaking staff, but it is always respectful to learn some phrases in their native tongue.

If you travel to the north of the country, you are likely to come across increasing numbers of Russian-speakers. This is due to the number of Vietnamese working or studying in this part of the world. Although many also speak Chinese and Japanese, the main foreign language is English.

Should I learn some Vietnamese before visiting Vietnam?
The Vietnamese are a proud people with a culture based on mutual respect and although many understand English you will find by attempting to speak the native tongue to will command greater respect, get better deals and even make friends. Below are some basic key phrases to help you communicate when you’re there. Here are some we think are worth learning:
  • “Hello” - “xin chào”, pronounced “seen chow”;
  • “How are you?” - “khỏe không?”, pronounced “kweh kohng?”;
  • “Fine, thank you” - “khoẻ, cảm ơn”, pronounced “kweh, kuhm uhhn”;
  • “My name is…” - “tôi tên là”, pronounced “toy ten la”;
  • “Please” - “làm ơn”, pronounced “lam uhhn”;
  • “Thank you” - “cảm ơn”, pronounced “kuhm uhhn”;
  • “You're welcome” - “không sao đâu”, pronounced “kohng sao doh”;
  • “Yes” - “đúng”, pronounced “doong”;
  • “No” - “không”, pronounced “kohng”;
  • “Goodbye” - “tạm biệt”, pronounced “tam byet”
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How Savvy Travelers Score Last Minute Hotel Deals in Bellevue

Bellevue is home to areas of natural beauty such as botanical parks, scenic nature trails, and swim beaches. Located just 10 miles away from Downtown Seattle, and within easy reach of Sea-Tac International Airport, Bellevue makes a great base for a trip to the Emerald city.

Booking a hotel in advance is advisable around the holidays; however, you can follow these simple tips for last-minute bookings to find some great deals on Bellevue Hotels.

Hotel Comparison Sites
If rates are sky-high for a booking via the hotel's official website, fear not! Many hotels choose to use third-party sites for discounted rates so that they don't upset customers who have paid full-whack for their rooms. A good hotel comparison site is able to quickly find the lowest rates for Bellevue hotels.

With so many travel comparison sites out there it can be tough to know who to use. A new and exciting travel comparison site that is earning itself a great reputation with travelers on the hunt for bargain deals is hipmunk.  Hipmunk is extremely easy to use and it seeks out the best prices for hotel rooms around the world at the click of a button. It also offers flight comparisons, and it displays the search results in a grid to provide a handy visual overview.

Alternative Accommodation
If you're finding that hotel rates are high, or that rooms are completely booked up, then you can also try searching elsewhere for accommodation. Airbnb is becoming an increasingly popular way to land yourself some alternative accommodation. People all around the world use this site to list their mansions, condos, spare rooms, and even tents in their garden to visitors. Not only does it allow for a more unique stay, but deals can be found for a fraction of the cost of a luxury hotel room.

Airbnb has a search feature on their website, or you can use sites like Hipmunk to save time and compare all of the available options for you. Many Airbnb hosts will lower their rates for a last-minute stay if the accommodation is not already booked up.

Stay Subscribed
If you regularly visit a hotel then it is worth subscribing to their newsletters or following them on their social networks sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Some hotels will send out last-minute insider deals to newsletter subscribers, while others will post details of flash deals and competitions via social networking sites.

Collect Points
Clever travelers will sign up to a range of reward schemes. Did you know that simple things like buying gas and groceries can save you money off of future Bellevue hotel stays? Many hotel chains will also have a loyalty program in place which records and collects points for hotel stays. You can then swap these points for discounted or even free room stays.

Try out one of more of the above travel tips to see just how much you could save off your last-minute trip to Bellevue. Happy travels!

Emily Sullivan has traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe and has written for a variety of publications including The Hartford Courant, The Toast, and The Frisky.  She is currently working with the Hipmunk City Love Project. 
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