hiking colorado springs

Hiking in Colorado Springs is one of the most popular past times among locals.  Here are some pointers, tips and advice for first time travelers wanting to hike “the Springs”.

Basic Rules of the Trail 

The  common rule when hiking is to stay on the trail.  This is not only for your own safety.   It is also to avoid disturbing the natural habitat of the trail.  Pets are popular companions but you need to keep them on a leash.  Some owners with very well behaved people friendly dogs tend to let their dog loose.  It is common courtesy to pick up after your dog if they poop on the trail.  Another in said rule of the trail is to move out of the way for runners and bikers.

Activities and Local of the Springs 

There are lots of activities in Colorado Springs that the locals and tourists can do.  I have noticed that people here are health conscious.  This is due to the high number of military people in the Springs.  There are 5 bases in Colorado mostly Army and Air Force and they have to stay fit.  Many people that live here are working for the military.

A Few Hiking Trails in Colorado Springs

List of Colorado Springs hiking trails/colorado parks that also allow pets to walk around.

hiking-colorado-springs

Garden of the Gods is one of the most beautiful attraction in Colorado Springs. It is also a local destination for hiking with families and pets.  It is a hot spot for bikers and climbers. Garden of the gods is a habitat to many animal and has a total land area of 1,319.1 acres.

hiking-colorado-springs

Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located at 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904. It has tons of trails that hikers can go to. Pets also have their own trail for them to run around without being on leash. I think that part is cool because they can roam around in their own trail.

hiking-colorado-springs (2)

Barr Trail is an amazing hiking trail. It is goes up an Pikes Peak mountain which you can run or hike for miles. It is also connected to the Incline.  Barr trail is the same trail that people use in going down after the Incline climb.

hiking-colorado-springs

Manitou Springs Incline – is a tough work out going up for 1 mile. It is a rough exercise for the body.  Those who are not so fit may need to prepare for this one.  Your joints will probably hurt a lot if you are not use to a hard exercise. A perfect time to hike there would be 5:00 – 6:00 in the morning when the sun is still rising.

Rock Island Trail – coming soon

Bear Creek Canon Park – coming soon

 

Castles in romania that you should explore

Romania, land of… Castles 

If you’re a history lover, then I bet you would love Romania. The place is filled with it and every little rock has its own personal story. You’ll like it even more if you’re a fan of castles. There are plenty of them… over 150, some say.

Romanian castles and citadels can generally be split into three categories, depending on how old they are: there are ancient Greek and Dacian fortresses, medieval castles and modern palaces spread all over the place.

castles-in-romania

courtesy of romaniatourism.com

So… if you’re into gods, myths and funky religions, best go and visit the old Dacian fortresses spread around the Western part of the country, high up in the mountains of Southern Transylvania. Sarmisegetuza is the old Dacian capital city (Dacia is an ancient kingdom roamed by the ancestors of Romanians, that existed on the now territory of Romania, before being conquered by the mighty Romans) and the most known of these places. You can find there examples of both Dacian and Roman architecture and houses, roads and temples. If you like a good old- fashioned treasure hunt, you should know that it’s the place where archeologists found several solid gold Dacian bracelets, worth a couple of million dollars each… Good luck with the metal detector!

courtesy of encyclopediaofukraine.com

courtesy of encyclopediaofukraine.com

If you don’t like obscure ancient people, take a dive into the old Greek civilization by visiting the ruins of the former Hellenic colonies near the Black Sea, Histria, Tomis and Callatis. The former is the best preserved and is worth a visit. It’s situated on the beaches of the Black Sea, a bit North of Constanta (Romania’s major sea port). Though ancient, the place still resembles the old Greek architecture and atmosphere – it’s worth a visit; guarantee it!

castles-in-romania

Moving on, medieval castles make up the large majority of this type of constructions. The most well known and spectacular examples are obviously in Transylvania. Bran Castle, near Brasov, is the place that people traditionally call the Castle of Dracula, because it was the home of Vlad the Impaler. Trap doors, magnificent scenery, interesting stories… definitely worth a visit.

courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Other interesting examples of medieval castles are the Hunyad Citadel, in Hunedoara, with its interesting XVI-th century architecture, the Rasnov Citadel, placed on a snowy hilltop in the Carpathians, a great place to enjoy spectacular views and Sighisoara, the only still inhabited medieval citadel in Europe.

courtesy of visit-transylvania.us

courtesy of visit-transylvania.us

Coming to the last category (in my opinion, the best), a visit to the Peles Castle, in the Prahova Valley, is strongly recommended if you come to Romania. Not far from Bucharest, it was built in the XIX-th century as the summer residence for Romania’s kings and queens and it saw important events in Romanian history (the decision to enter WWI, for e.g., was taken there). It is regarded as one of the foremost examples of the luxury that royal families in Europe enjoyed before WWII. Other examples of modern palaces worth a look are the Banffy Castle in Cluj (still in a bad state and in dire need for renovation), the Mogosoaia Palace, near Bucharest, and the Palace of Culture, in Iasi (the capital of the historical region of Moldova).

Finally, a few practical tips: though most of them are well signaled on the road and on tourist maps, best do a bit of research online before you head on your way; some of them are free for visiting, some of them sell tickets (prices usually vary between 3-5$ per person); check the visiting schedule in advance, because some of them are closed for the public for various events (or you might be lucky and take part in the event yourself), and, to end, they are very touristic places, so food, lodging and shops around these objectives might be a bit more expensive than elsewhere in the country. Nothing more to say except: Castle away!!

 

thailand dating

Many of my friends and coworkers traveled to Thailand specifically for the women.  The main places they would go were Pattaya, Bangkok and Chang mai.  We have personally been to Bangkok and Pattaya, so we can verify what is said about these two wild places.

There is probably no better place to find a date in South East Asia than Thailand.  One of my co-workers traveled to Bangkok after a nasty divorce and found an amazing wife on the outskirts of the city.  They bought a house and had a healthy baby boy.  The only problem was that Thailand has so many other amazing “potential” wives that he could not stop finding “options”.  The last time I talked to him, he was still traveling there and hooking up with 2 or 3 women at once then going home to his Thai wife and kid when he was done.  According to him, it was ok because many Thai men have “options”.  I am not sure if that was true.  Needless to say he is not the most ethical guy I have ever met.  Many of the Thai women I have met have been the “jealous type”, so I don’t think his wife knew about his travels.   I am not condoning this type of behavior, I am just telling you what happened.

We met a beautiful French/Thai couple in Pattaya.  Physically very attractive by any standard.  They showed us the many clubs for possible hookups (and/or prostitutes) in Pattaya.  They were very nice to us and it was really a pleasure to have met them.

our friends from thailand

friends from thailand

Another group of guys I know are huge fans of Pattaya.  It is a little touristy and crowded for my tastes, but it’s really not bad for a vacation.  These guys would date several women in Pattaya.  Their routine was to find two or three per day!  And for a little money you could have more.  Is it dating if you have to pay?

If you are looking for something in the middle (not one night stands and only long term if things workout) then Thailand is still one of the best.  A friend of ours has dated a lawyer and a doctor in Bangkok!  There are many very successful women and men there to choose from.  The economy is one of the best in South East Asia.  Those with higher education tend to know English, French, Spanish or some other languages other than Thai.

Pattaya

Pattaya

Most of the thai people we met were amazingly nice people.  It’s very easy to find a date in Thailand no matter what you are looking for.  The biggest barrier seems to be language since most people don’t know any English.  This makes a long distance relationship almost impossible, so Thai ladies looking for a foreigner usually look for those that are already in Thailand.  Another thing is race.  Just like Filipino women, Thai people favor the nordic/European look.  Although many in South East Asia are obsessed with the European look, there are definitely exceptions, but not many.

Overall, I would say Thailand is a great place for anyone to find a mate.  The Thai people as a whole are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

How to successfully date romania girls

written by: Cosmin

How to find a date in Romania? 

So, now that I’ve convinced you to visit Romania, maybe it’s time for a few tips on how to meet new people there.

First of all, you should know that people are generally friendly and welcoming to foreigners. Don’t be surprised if, travelling around the countryside, locals invite you in their homes for a freshly boiled polenta with cheese and a glass of Tuica (the local drink). Even if you’re in a hurry or you’re really not into cheese and cooked meat, it’s polite to accept these invitations and spend even a few minutes inside a person’s home – some houses, especially in Transylvania, are traditionally decorated and a splendor to watch.

romania-girls

Coming back to the city, as I’ve mentioned in the previous article, Bucharest is one of Eastern Europe’s nightlife “capitals” – you can find here over 200 nightclubs spread across the city and plenty more restaurants or pubs where you can spend a quiet evening, if you’re not into dancing and loud music.

And of course, if you’re up for a night on the town, you won’t want to spend it alone, would you? Meeting and dating girls in Romania, as a foreigner, is quite easy – they are beautiful, some say some of the nicest girls in Europe, so “Lucky you!”

Romania girls are elegant, proud and equally not so easy to impress. So don’t come flashing your Mercedes keys – it won’t work, that’s of course if you don’t want to end up with a hooker. They are well travelled, at least in Europe, usually speak at least two foreign languages and are always interested in meeting people from a different culture than theirs.

The common places for meeting girls are clubs and pubs (as in other places) and there are some key things that you should know if you want to land a date: dress elegantly – smart casual (no tracksuit, no shiny stuff – glasses, shoes etc.), take off your sun glasses when you go inside, always have a drink in front of you.  Act casual and for GOD SAKEs, DO NOT make a fool of yourself by showing people the traditional dances in your country.

Approaching women is not that hard, as you can simply enter into clubs where 75% of the customers are women (yes, you read correctly!), usually dancing to either Latino or hip-hop in short, elegant, dresses.  Just go up to them, start dancing around and things will work out naturally from then on.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning: Be careful! Although, as I said, the majority of Romania women are nice and pleasant, you can also be unlucky enough to find scammers (as it is everywhere). So, my advice for you would be: have fun! Enjoy yourself! But if she tells you she loves you after two days and asks for your bank card to help her sick mother, best run away! :)

Places to visit in romania

written by cosmin

Why should you visit Romania?

Romania is a country in Southeast Europe, roughly situated between the Carpathian Mountains, the Danube River and the Black Sea. With its untouched wilderness, sandy beaches and rich cultural heritage, Romania is one of most offering tourist destinations in Europe. Moreover, being a more underrated destination, you’ll get the chance to experience all these beauties without the bustling and sometimes rather annoying “touristic” experience.

The cultural melange is what makes Romania unique – the multitude of German, Russian and Turkish influences left their mark on the country – and its culture – and its people. Moreover, the fact that this “cultural cocktail” is place on a “bed” of beautiful natural scenery and rich heritage makes it one of the most interesting destinations that a travel could possibly encounter.

The top three tourist places to visit in Romania are Transylvania, the birthplace of the legendary Count Dracula, Bucharest, once called “Little Paris, and the Danube Delta, one of the last truly wild places in Europe.

places-to-visit-in-romania

courtesy of: telegraph.co.uk

 

Transylvania is situated in the Northwestern part of the country, covering almost one third of the country. A place of astonishing beauty, travelers can find here medieval castles that were once the battleground between Christian princes and Turkish sultans, picturesque medieval cities, like Sibiu, Brasov or Sighisoara, uncharted forests filled with hiking trails and ski slopes (but also brown bears; be careful!) as well as an exquisite cuisine based on naturally grown vegetables and meat.

courtesy of fanpop.com

courtesy of fanpop.com

Bucharest is the capital and the biggest city of the country. It is a mixture of classic, XIX-th century architecture with bizarre, communist-built buildings. The Palace of Parliament, the “masterpiece” of the Ceausescu-era and one of the biggest buildings in the world, is located there, being the main tourist attraction of the city. Bucharest is also home to more than two-dozen museums, an opera house, a zoo, two waterparks, but also houses one of the biggest nightlife areas in Europe, Centrul Vechi (EN: Old Town, FR: Vieille Ville).

courtesy of wwf.panda.org

courtesy of wwf.panda.org

The Danube Delta is located in the Southeastern corner of the country, bordering the Black Sea. It is a UNESCO World Nature Site, a high number of animal and plant species calling it home. The Delta is the ideal place to go to if you’re a nature-lover or if you’re just fed up with the tense city life and want a break. Leisure activities, such as fishing, rowing, taking boat trips, swimming, sun bathing (surrounded by tree and water grassland, make no mistake!), are the main things you’ll receive in the Delta.

Who is it suitable for?

Not being a very established tourist destination, traveling to Romania is not your thing if you are looking for a crowded museum parking lots or overly priced souvenir shops. Generally, the country is visited by well-traveled people, groups of 30-40 elderly gentlemen and ladies that take a relaxed one-week tour by bus around the country.

Despite this, the country has been receiving more and more young people willing to discover new places on the very well known European continent. They usually spend 4 or 5 days in Bucharest and Transylvania, staying in cheap, but neat guesthouses owned by local people.

If you decide to plan your trip around the medieval land of Transylvania, then you can also decide to bring your family on this very culturally rich tour. Bucharest, a bustling metropolis, serves its visitors a lot of fascinating museums, hipsterish nightclubs and bars, but also a vibrating cultural scene.

Why should you come visit Romania?

One good reason is: “Hey!.. How many people can say they’ve been to Romania?!” Imagine the stories you could tell after a trip in this place..

 

cruise travel tips: Intro

In about 2 months we are going on a cruise.  The first thing we did was to research what the best cruise would be for us.  Here are our first set of cruise travel tips.

How we searched for the best cruise?

We are a big fan of review sites.  If you want people’s real raw opinion beyond any flashy marketing jargon, then you have to listen to people who have been there.  For cruises, the best place to look at cruise reviews is http://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/?src=nav

cruise-travel-tips

You can look up critiques on specific cruise lines and even ships in a cruiseline.  Most people have nothing to gain and nothing to lose by giving their honest, unfiltered opinion of their experience.  These are REAL TIME reviews.  Not review from a year ago, but from days or hours ago.  Read the bad and good reviews objectively.  Some of the reviewers are “cry babies” that complain about petty nonsense but some are legit complaints that happen to more than one passenger on the same line.  Things like food poisoning or super high prices should not be ignored when scores of passengers on the same line and same ship are complaining about consistently.

When should you get your tickets?

Choose early because the good deals go fast.  Also prices tend to go up as it get closer and closer to big vacation days.  For example, the closer you get to summer the faster the slots fill up.  The space on the ship is limited so don’t wait.

What are the Travel requirements?

We noticed that the requirement actually vary based on where the cruiseline goes and what your citizenship status is.  For example, a “closed loop” travel is when the ship will return to the same port it originally traveled from.  A closed loop can be traveled by a nonimmigrant of the United States who has proper documentation (a passport and applicable documents).  But if the cruise will end in another port, their maybe issues for nonimmigrants in the US.  The situation really depends on where the travel will end and the status of the citizen, immigrant or nonimmigrant.  The only way to be sure is to contact the cruiseline.

It seems like a good idea to have a passport just in case you miss the ship and get stuck in another country.

Travel Insurance

While booking tickets travel insurance is your best bet to be safe. Just in case emergencies happens where you have to cancel your trip or you change your mind and decided to travel somewhere else instead of a cruise, the only way for you to get your money back is to be insured.  In the cruise policies (Carnival cruise), I noticed that there is “No refund”.  Once you have book your trip you cannot get your money back if your trip is within 2 months.  You will have to pay a $200.00 cancellation fee.

 

 

What is the Grand Canyon?

What is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is in Arizona, United States of America.  It is managed by Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo Nation, and two other tribal nations.  It is 446 kilometer (277 miles) long and about 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide.

We are planning to go to the Grand Canyon in summer 2015.  I think it will be pretty cool.  We will probably drive there from our home in Colorado.  According to Google Maps, the Grand Canyon is a 9 hour drive on US-160W.

We are looking at a budget of about $400 for the whole trip:

Gas: $125 (depending on prices at that time)

Parking: $25

Entrance fee:  $12/person

Hotel: $200

Entrance Fee Free Days this year:

  • January 19 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)
  • February 14-16 (Presidents Day Weekend)
  • April 18-19 (Opening weekend of National Park Week)
  • August 25 (National Park Service Birthday)
  • September 26 (National Public Lands Day)
  • November 11 (Veterans Day)

We will probably stay at the Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Village in Arizona for one night and drive back home early the next day.  We will probably check out the Canyon Star Restaurant.  We are not the kind of travelers that go to another place just to eat at McDonalds.

 

Red Rock Canyon Colorado

Red Rock Canyon (in Colorado.. not to be confused with the one in Nevada) is one of the more leisurely hikes we frequent. Unlike Barr Trail, Red Rock has less of an incline.  It is a series of criss-crossing trails through a canyon of red rock.  It is an area of 789 acres in Colorado Springs, Colorado next to a city called Manitou Springs.

On the way through the trails you can sometimes see wild life (mostly deer and rabbits minding their own business).  This trail is great for the family.

red-rock-canyon (4)

 

Red Rock Canyon Location: 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

The Red Rock Canyon Open Space is located along Highway 24.

From I-25 take the Cimarron Street exit west. Cimarron Street will turn into Highway 24. After the 31st Street light, turn left onto Ridge Road. Red Rock Canyon will be on the south side of the street. The parking lot is located at the end of Ridge Road – Red Rock Canyon

red-rock-canyon-trail-map

Contact Number: (719) 385-2489

Owned by: City of Colorado Springs

Parking lot closed: 9:00 pm – 5:00 am Red rock National Park Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Red Rock Canyon Rules and Regulations

  1.  Stay on designated trails. Remember trail etiquettes for safety and protection of sensitive natural resources.red-rock-canyon (9)
  2. Dogs must be on leash at all times.
  3. Clean up after your pet.red-rock-canyon
  4. Park in designated areas only.red-rock-canyon (2)
  5. No motorized vehicles.
  6. No dumping, littering, alcoholic beverages, tree cutting, fires and no camping.

Warning: Serious and fatal rock climbing incidence have occured in other city parks with large rock formation like those found in Red Rock Canyon. Technical climbers are required to register at Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. Technical climbing is permitted in group of two or more with proper climbing equipment.

You can also volunteer in helping with community activities on parks preservation.

http://www.openspacevolunteers.org

Vegetations found in Red Rock Canyon :

  • Typical Mountain shrub community of the front range foothillshiking-colorado
  • Mountain shrubs more dense than typical
  • Mountain shrubs more sparse than typical
  • Mixed grass open meadows
  • Pinyon-Juniper Forest on rocky outcrops
  • Cool conifers found on the sides of the deep canyons
  • Mixed Conifers where the canyons open up a little
  • Niobrara formation
  • Ponderosa-oak forest
  • Disturbed ground in areas of high anthopogenic disturbance
  • Disturbed mix where native species persist but with high disturbance

Types of animals seen while hiking :

1. Deers

2. Rabbit

3. Birds

4. Geese

red-rock-canyon (5)

Whats your opinion about our culture, traditions and religion of the middle east?

I have spent a total of 2 1/2 year living in the middle east.  I lived in Kuwait, Saudi, Afghanistan and I have visited Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.  Most of these trips were in a business capacity with very little travel for fun, but in two years I was able to get a good feel for the region and write a little about it.  One reader asked us a question about how we feel about it.

What’s your opinion about our culture, traditions and religion (middle east)? 
Do you have Kuwaiti friends?
And whats your opinion about “Kuwaiti Women”

I will be completely honest. Coming from the west, the entire middle east is a complete shock for me and I have been there multiple times (Qatar/Kuwait/Saudi/Oman/Bahrain). I am not used to Sharia law, for example. In the west, people are much more open about religion and there is a separation between church and state.

middle_east98That being said, Kuwait is one of the more open-minded middle east countries. I have lived in Saudi, and there is a huge difference between Saudi and Kuwait.. Kuwait feels more free. When I am in your country (or any country), I always respect the laws and culture regardless of my personal lifestyle and opinions. I know i am not at home and I don’t want to disrespect your way of life, so I mind the local laws customs and courtesies.

I did not have any Kuwaiti friends. I was there for about two years. It does not mean that I did not want to meet kuwaitis. Most of my bad experiences there were from other foreigners NOT kuwaitis. So I am not sure why I did not meet any.

I met Egyptians (they might have been Kuwaiti citizens). Most that I met were TRYING to become kuwaiti citizens (like Badoons, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistani) but they where not allowed even after many years of living there or even being BORN there.  This made them very resentful of Kuwait and Kuwaitis.  They usually did not have good things to say.

I met MANY people from developing countries (philippines, pakistan, indians, bangledesh) they rarely had anything good to say about kuwait. When I was there, I noticed that there was a HUGE animosity between foreigners from developing countries and Kuwaitis because of the issues with immigration and sponsorship. I could tell you some very terrible stories about that. It kind of begs the question.. if they are so unhappy with kuwait, why do they stay so long? Because the situation in their own countries is much worse. If you get a chance, find an honest taxi driver… talk to him.

Between Kuwaitis and Americans things were ok. More than one American I worked with married a Kuwaiti woman.  They were all American Muslim men.  They did not have complaints.  The kuwaiti women really treated them good from what i could see and were usually very accomplished professional women.  I also knew an American muslim woman married to a Kuwaiti man.  American and Kuwaiti relations seems to be decent.

My opinion of Kuwaiti women is that they are GORGEOUS.  Most Americans agree.  No American men will complain about the looks of Kuwaitis or Arab women in general.  For us they look very, very exotic.  Like models.

It’s funny because we are warned over and over again when we get to Kuwait (as American contractors) that we are not allowed to interact with Kuwaiti women (not even to look). But then I go to the Malls and they are looking at me LOL.

Kuwaiti women covertly flirted a lot.. particularly in coffee shops and the malls.  I am not sure if we are supposed to talk about that but there it is.

I don’t know if you are familiar with this sight but desertgirl was one of the best blogs in kuwait. She talks very openly and frankly about situations in Kuwait.

hiking photos: Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is one of the best hiking trails in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It makes  for the perfect outdoor activity for the whole family.  Compared to Barr trail, Red Rock Canyon is not a very exhausting hike.  Red Rock is such a gradual incline that it feels like a leisure walk in many areas of the trails.  As we go on the trail, we noticed that Red Rock is composed of MANY trails leading through the valleys, crests and passes of the small canyon.

We have found that the perfect time to go hiking there is 8:00 o’clock in the morning when the sun is still rising.  If you start at 8 am, you can finish about 9:00 am as more people start to show up.

Here are the hiking photos taken from our trips from March 2015.

hiking photos

a stump in Red Rock Canyon

hiking photos - first steps into Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

entry into Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

hiking photos - path of Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

path of Red Rock Canyon (Colorado)

hiking photos - Red Rock Canyon Trail System Sign

Red Rock Canyon Trail System Sign

hiking photos - Red Rock Trail

Trail

hiking photos - Red Rock Canyon Food Chain Sign

Red Rock Canyon Food Chain Sign

hiking photos - Red Rock Trail

hiking photos - Red Rock Trail 8:30 am

Red Rock Canyon Trail in the morning

hiking photos - small hill on Red Rock Trail

small hill on Red Rock Trail

 

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